Tuesday, April 5, 2016

India- Saudi Arabia

The real question, however, is whether the joint statements will be translated into actual policies. Despite some tensions, there is nothing substantial to suggest that the Pakistani-Saudi alliance is getting any worse. Even though the joint statement denounces all kinds of terrorism, the Saudis are accused of funding extremist groups in West Asia, particularly in war-torn Syria. Besides, there are some fundamental weak spots in India-Saudi ties, ranging from concerns about Indian workers in the kingdom to its funding of Wahhabi groups elsewhere, including in India. Another obvious concern is the drastic change under way in West Asia, and the aggressive role Riyadh is playing in regional geopolitics. During the visit Mr. Modi may have focussed on the positive factors of the relationship to improve ties, and rightly so. But India cannot afford to miss the big picture while finessing policies. There have to be mechanisms to address the flaws as well, without which the grand diplomatic overtures may not bear fruit. Also, India would be wary of appearing partisan at a time when the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia is at its peak. The best way forward is to continue the multi-directional West Asia policy with more vigour, but maintaining its equilibrium.

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