Without peaks, West Asia ‘quartet’ is making progress

President Biden’s participation in the summit meeting of the Indo-Pacific “Quartet”, which includes Australia, Japan, India and the United States in competition with China, demonstrates the importance of East Asia and the South Pacific in current US policy. But a different group of four countries appears to be making more progress.

The West Asia Quartet – a grouping of India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States – was Launched in October 2021 with much less noise than that accompanies the Indo-Pacific Partnership. But it has already led to a free trade agreement and multiple cooperative arrangements. Unlike the Indo-Pacific Quad, which eschews difficult security questions, the West Asia Partnership adopts a realistic assessment of shared threats.

The idea of ​​the West Asia Quartet came strongly from Israel and the UAE the support From US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on the four countries that benefit from each other”Complementary capabilities“In the Middle East when he was the Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid He emphasized “synergies” in “infrastructure, digital infrastructure, transportation, and maritime security”.

Rather than focusing on the challenge from a single rising power, the West Asia quartet is brought together, in the words of UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, through the special bonds that “distinguishRelations between these countries. Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar referred to the UAE, Israel and the United States as “India.”Closest RelationshipsAnd these close relationships make the four countries more willing to work together.

In early May, the UAE Minister of Economy led a 70-member company delegation to Delhi and Mumbai to discuss ways to boost trade and investments in India and the UAE. This was a follow up for February 2022 free trade agreement That both countries signed and entered into force on 1 May. A similar free trade agreement already exists between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, while there is an agreement between India and Israel in Pipeline.

The United Arab Emirates is already one of India’s largest trading partners, after the United States, China and the European Union in Trade volume. Bilateral trade volume between the two countries reached $59 billion last year, and Emirati companies invested $18 billion in India. The UAE also hosts 3.4 million Indian workers, whose remittances constitute an important component of India’s hard currency earnings of $83 billion in Transfers. The UAE has helped address India’s concerns about oil security by contributing to India Strategic oil reserves.

The partnership between Israel and India is also strong, and Israel is one of the three largest suppliers of defense equipment to India. Forty-three percent of Israel arms exports sold in India. Bilateral trade between India and Israel, currently $4.14 Billion, is increasing. Israel exports agricultural technology, internet technology, healthcare technology, and defense equipment to India, while India sells metal products, machinery, and textiles to Israel.

The West Asia Quartet is brought together by common interests and complementary capabilities. This differs from the Indo-Pacific Quad, where, despite American enthusiasm, the partners do not always deliver what others need. The four countries that do not have FTAs ​​such as Israel, India and the United Arab Emirates seem to have succeeded. Each of them knows they have to work together against China, but they seem to take time figuring out what they might get from each other. Japan, for example, wants to replace China as Australia’s main trading partner but is unable to offer Australia any security advantage in return.

There is no such ambiguity in the West Asian Quartet. As the United States brings its military power to the negotiating table, other partners are able to make significant contributions to each other’s security or economy. The strategic pragmatism of the UAE provides the glue for rally while ensuring energy supply and employment for India for a large population. The UAE sees India as an external power that balances China and is not seen by the United States as a threat.

Israel’s technological and economic strength, and military intelligence prowess, cooperate well with India’s ability to provide manpower and access to a large market. The UAE’s bold move to recognize Israel, and its firm commitment to the Abraham Accords, brought it closer to Israel.

This puts the UAE in a position to influence Israel in protecting Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, while also being a staunch Muslim opponent of radical Islamic extremism. India, which is home to 200 million Muslims and which was a victim of terrorism such as the November 26, 2008, Mumbai attacks, appreciates the Israeli and Emirati support against the terrorists

The West Asia Quartet operates because it brings together two major economies in the Middle East – Israel and the United Arab Emirates – with the more assertive India and resident external power, the United States. If the Indo-Pacific Quartet is to succeed, it will also have to find complementarities among its members along the lines of those members of the successfully identified West Asia Quartet.

Hussain Haqqani is director of the South and Central Asia region at the Hudson Institute. Served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, 2008-11. Aparna Pandey is a fellow and director of the India and South Asia Future Initiative at the Hudson Institute in Washington.

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