International columnist, political analyst and senior journalist Ahmed Mohiuddin Siddiqui’s articles are published across Asia, Africa and Europe. He writes for The Moroccan Times, The Tunis Times, India Tomorrow, Kohram News, The Etemaad Urdu Daily and for news papers published from Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. You can follow him on Twitter at: @journopolana[/symple_box]
The Iran nuclear deal has a political fallout with the Arab countries looking towards India for their defence requirements. India is a nuclear power and a long time friend of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with blood relations. The cat was set among the pigeons after the United States (US) made a policy shift in the Middle East by patching up with what it once called Iran –‘The Axis of Evil’. The US is no longer a ‘Great Satan’ to Iran.
The fast changing political equations perhaps made the Arab policy makers not to depend on the US for all their defence needs. A new strong defence collaboration has taken shape between the UAE and India during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the oil-rich Arab nation which concluded on Monday. India needs petro-dollars and the UAE needs a nuclear alternative other than the US, which is increasingly seen veering towards the Iranian interests in the Middle East. India’s missile systems and space technology will ensure that the UAE is not left behind in the global race for technological advancement. With 2.8 million Indian expatriates working there, the UAE is confident that in case of any future conflict with Iran, India may not stand with Iran though both have cordial and close relations.
It is proposed that there will be closer cooperation in defence through regular exercises and a strategic security dialogue between National Security Advisers and their committees. When the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met the Indian Prime Minister it was also agreed to cooperate through defence manufacturing in India. There will be cooperation on renewable and peaceful use of nuclear energy. It is agreed to jointly develop and launch satellites and associated technology.
‘‘India and UAE share centuries-old ties of commerce, culture and kinship. Both the counties will work together on counter-terrorism operations, share intelligence, step up efforts against money laundering and radicalization apart from cooperation in regional defence and policing.’’
There are plans to invest US $ 75 billion in India to boost trade and infrastructure by 60 %. Energy, defence, aerospace, health, education, tourism, science and technology will stand to gain in India. The India Investment Fund aiming to raise US $ 75 billion will support investment in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure, especially in railways, parts, roads, airports, industrial corridors and parks.
The first visit to UAE by an Indian Prime Minister in 34 years was not without theatrics and drama. Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose Islamophobe and anti-Muslim Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s leaders including former deputy prime minister L. K Advani, are facing criminal cases in High Court in connection with the demolition of the historical 400-year old Babri Masjid, made a coup of sorts. Narendra Modi visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. For a change, Narendra Modi extolled the Islamic virtues in the mosque’s visitors book. The Emiratis were impressed and Modi extracted the pound of flesh by asking for building of a Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi, which was agreed in 2013.
The highlight of Narendra modi’s visit was his meeting with the dubai ruler and the Vice president and Prime Minister of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who accepted the invitation of Narendra Modi to visit India.
The latest developments and the emerging Indo-UAE strategic partnership may not allow Iran to flex its muscles in the Middle East though with the tacit backing of its new found partner – the United States. It is said that in politics, there are no permanent enemies or friends. For now, the United Arab Emirates can breath easy and march towards their cherished goals of peace and prosperity. Among the Arabs, the UAE has Morocco –its great friend, which sent peace keepers to protect peace and integrity in trying times earlier.