Diplomatist Magazine Diplomatist April 2018 - Page 41

MIDDLE EAST NOTEBOOK in recent years has led Abu the Indian Ocean getting more Dhabi and Dubai to prioritise attention of India’s foreign diversifying revenue sources. policy establishment, Oman’s The UAE is also concerned importance is set to grow with the rising tide of terrorism further. The Modi government and extremism in South Asian is aware of the need for India to region. The 2008 Mumbai increase its military presence terror attacks had forced the in Oman as part of its maritime Gulf countries to take serious strategy to counter China’s note of potential dangers to the fast-expanding economic region of Pakistani-sponsored and strategic footprint in the terrorism against India. Indian Ocean. There are also Under the Modi reports of China building g o v e r n m e n t , I n d i a ’s a naval base in Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategy Jiwani peninsula, which is has been able to isolate and near Gwadar and located just expose Pakistan’s double- east of the Gulf of Oman. dealing policy on terrorism. During Modi’s visit, India Consequently, the UAE and and Oman signed a landmark Narendra Modi visits Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque Saudi Arabia have embarked pact that extends dry docking on a closer relationship with India on issues of security and other facilities to Indian naval ships in Oman’s and counter-terrorism, and have frequently deported those strategically located Duqm port. It needs to be mentioned Indians who are suspected of having links with banned that Duqm port, opening into the Arabian Sea and the Indian terrorist outfi ts. The cooperation extended is much more Ocean, is vital to India because to its north is Iran’s Chabahar than what is in the public domain. In their joint statement, port. India is developing Chabahar to open a trade route to the two leaders “reiterated their condemnation for efforts, Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan. including by states, to use religion to justify, support and As New Delhi remains committed to contribute in ending sponsor terrorism against other countries, or to use terrorism the Afghan confl ict, and to develop trade routes through as instrument of state policy.” The upgraded ties between Iran to Afghanistan while diluting Pakistan’s ties to the Gulf India and the UAE have the potential to hurt Pakistan’s monarchies, much of India’s security engagements in the Gulf audacity as there has been a perceptible shift in UAE’s region are designed to reduce Pakistan’s military footprint. position over Kashmir. The bond between India and UAE To boost their defence ties, the two countries have agreed looks stronger than ever. to “regular holding of joint exercises by the three defence Oman has been India’s traditional partner in West Asia, forces, training of navy, air force and army offi cials, as where Indians constitute the largest expatriate community. also cooperation in the area of coastal defence and through Bilateral ties between India and Oman were formally participation in defence exhibitions”. PM Modi appreciated established with the signing of the 1953 Indo-Oman Treaty the support of Omani security agencies on “specifi c issues of Friendship, Navigation and Commerce. This was fi rst such of security concern to India”. treaty between India and an Arab country. The two countries India’s engagement with West Asia has played an celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of important role in India’s national economy and has contributed their diplomatic relations in 2015. Oman is a crucial Indian to improving the country’s standing in international relations. ally in the West Asian region, and the partnership with Muscat PM Modi’s diplomacy has had a remarkable impact in provides New Delhi with signifi cant strategic and economic galvanising bilateral economic and defense relations with benefi ts. Oman is the fi rst country in the gulf region to many West Asian countries. Now New Delhi must focus on procure the Indian small arms system (INSAS). Similarly, deepening the political and strategic aspect of its ties as India India has accorded a high priority to creating greater trade aspires for great power status. and investment opportunities with Oman. Access to Omani ports and waters is vital to maintaining * The author is Assistant Professor, International Affairs India’s security interests in the Gulf region. New Delhi’s and Security Studies and Coordinator, Centre for Peace & naval cooperation with Muscat has already been gaining Confl ict Studies, Sardar Patel University of Police, Security momentum as regular naval exercises are the norm now. With and Criminal Justice, Rajasthan. Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist • Vol 6 • Issue 4 • April 2018, Noida • 39