Changes in West Asian Diplomacy – UPSC GS2

Changes in relations among West Asian Nations:
  • In the last few months, many West Asian nations have made efforts to bridge their diplomatic ties with their rival nations.
  • Interaction between Saudi and Iranian officials.
  • Removal of the diplomatic and economic blockade on Qatar that was imposed by Saudi Arabia.
  • United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, Qatar has made efforts to bridge ties with both Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
  • Turkey and Egypt had their first diplomatic meeting in Cairo after they had broken diplomatic ties in 2013.
  • Diplomatic engagements have provided an opportunity for countries to address their differences. It could realign the existing regional alignments and possibly end ongoing conflicts.
What are the reasons for resetting diplomatic ties between rival west Asian countries?
  • Change in USA’s approach:
    • US’s non-lenient approach towards Saudi Arabia. For instance, the US has called for closer scrutiny of its human rights record and has strongly opposed the war in Yemen. Egypt too has concerns on the human rights issue.
    • US’s appeasing attitude towards Iran. The US could re-enter the nuclear agreement and sanctions on Iran could be revoked.
    • Increasing distrust in U.S -Turkey relations. Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has built close ties with Russia, while threatening U.S. allies in Syria, the Kurds, with military force. Compounding to the problem, the US recognition of the Armenian “genocide” has created more distrust between the two allies.
    • US decision to depart away from its responsibility of providing regional security to West Asian nations. The US wants regional states to be responsible for their regional security.
  • COVID:
    • Coronavirus pandemic is devastating West Asia. The epidemic has severely damaged regional economies and has impacted oil prices creating uncertainties for the producer states.
  • Failure of Military actions:
    • West Asian nations have recognised that Peaceful resolution of disputes is the better solution. For instance, the ongoing regional conflicts, in Syria, Yemen, and Libya, despite the massive death and destruction, have yielded no military outcome The priority for Saudi Arabia is to end the Yemen conflict.
  • Economic Cost:
    • Conflicts impose huge economic costs on Nations. For instance, Iran’s role in Syria costs its exchequer a few billion dollars every month. Whereas Saudi Arabia has spent several hundred billion dollars in buying weaponry to sustain its partnership with the U.S.
Opportunity for India:
  • Currently, West Asian nations are preparing to negotiate their strategic interests without outside intrusion.
  • However, given that the regional contentions are inter-connected, third-party facilitators are needed to promote mutual confidence and prepare the ground for a comprehensive regional security arrangement.
  • This arrangement will have provisions for participating states to uphold regional peace and promote mutually beneficial cooperation in energy, economic and logistical connectivity areas.
  • Given India’s close ties with all the regional states, India is well-placed to build an association of like-minded states with Japan, Russia, South Korea to shape the West Asian peace process

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