Diplomatist Special Report: West Asia - North Africa 2018 WANA 2018 - Page 46

India and WANA: Security and Cooperation By DANEESH SETHNA* I ndia’s engagement with the Arab world is rooted in its enduring cultural and civilizational ties with the region. Throughout history, be it through interactions with travellers like Ibn Battuta and Al Beruni or through trade in spices and exchanges of knowledge and culture, India’s ties with the westernmost parts of our continent have been those of friendship and cooperation. Even as a modern nation- state, the WANA region has been a major economic and political partner with India as evidenced by the Non-Aligned Movement and the signifi cant Indian Diaspora in the region, a sustained relationship of cooperation and international support is in the best interest of all. Amidst India’s foreign policy objectives of ‘Looking East’, in 2014, the country has added a new dimension with its ‘Link West’ policy demonstrating a renewed commitment to greater friendship and deeper cooperation with the region. However, while economic cooperation and labour trade have been on the rise, India needs to look more deeply into a sustainable cooperation with the WANA region on issues of security. Unlike most interlocutors in the region, India's ties with West Asia have been devoid of any strategic manipulations as witnessed by the amicable relationship the country has built with Egypt, Morocco and Israel, thus putting India in a strong 46 •West Asia-North Africa footing for better partnerships within the region. However, given Indian ambitions to become a major player in the global geopolitical realm, a greater cooperation and engagement with this highly contentious region, especially in terms of security and defence cooperation is essential. The regions of both West and South Asia have been plagued by issues of religious extremism and terror, piracy and insurgency and energy and climate insecurity along with other destabilising factors and greater all-around security cooperation is in the best interests of both regions. Building on our bilateral cooperation with the countries of West Asia and North Africa, India must start investing both economically as well as diplomatically in partnerships both bilaterally as well as multilaterally in concrete security cooperation. Increasing engagements in counter-terrorism and intelligence activities, with real-time exchange of information, surveillance of the fl ow of terror fi nancing between the regions an H[ۚ]ܚ[وH[ݙ[Y[و[H[ݚYHXZ܈]YX[Y[ܙX]B[[[\[H\Hو\[ZX^[Z\H[BZY\ [H[XH\Y[\YXYBHX]]Y\وHTT]\Y[[\\ܚ\X]]Y\[\YY]؛[\وYX[\][