India Gets Close to Saudi Arabia

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by LETHALFORCE, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    India Gets Close to Saudi Arabia | Indian Decade

    At a time when the Saudis are, with an eye on Iran, wooing India like never before, the traditionally warm relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are going through a rough patch.

    On June 6, Saudi Arabia agreed to double its crude oil exports to India, meaning Indian crude imports from the kingdom would amount to more than 800,000 barrels per day. This is the first big step towards a strategic energy partnership between New Delhi and Riyadh, something that the two sides have been working on since the beginning of last year.

    This strategic energy partnership could culminate in a 30-year oil supply contract that Saudi Arabia is expected to sign with India. It would also mark a further step along the path of improved ties since India-Saudi Arabia relations were transformed following the 2006 state visit to India by King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud.

    Post-Osama bin Laden, Pakistan’s credibility with the United States has touched rock bottom. But the country’s ties with Saudi Arabia – a sworn enemy of bin Laden – have arguably been just as damaged. The fact that bin Laden was found deep inside Pakistani territory won’t have amused the Saudi royal family, which is of course fully aware that one of the late al-Qaeda leader’s goals was the overthrow of the monarchy.

    Days after bin Laden’s killing by US Special Forces in Abbottabad, the government of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari dispatched Interior Minister Rehman Malik to Riyadh. Malik reportedly delivered a letter on behalf of Zardari to King Abdullah. He also gave an exhaustive briefing to top Saudi diplomatic, military and intelligence officials, including Saudi intelligence chief Prince Muqrin and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal on the bin Laden episode, telling them that Pakistani military and intelligence officials were completely unaware of bin Laden’s presence in the country. Malik told them that the government had ordered an inquiry into the Abbottabad episode and would share the results with Riyadh.

    However, Saudi-Pakistan relations continue to be tense. It’s not just because the Saudis no longer trust the Pakistanis over their promises in the war against terror, but also because Saudi interests are increasingly under attack in Pakistan since bin Laden’s death: following a grenade attack at the Saudi Consulate in Karachi, a Saudi diplomat was shot dead in Karachi.
     
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  3. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Well it does look like it for the near and middle term.

    Like it or not, India is growing closer to the US-Israel-GCC(Saudi) combine and this is indirectly pushing Pakistan-Iran-China to align together. The real challenge is trying to keep the Indo-Iranian relations intact despite the massive pressure from the US-Israel-GCC combine. We still haven't found a way to pay the Iranians for the oil they are sending us till now if I'm not mistaken.

    And if Pakistani elites start thinking in ideological terms like Iran's president Ahmedijinad does,then they will end being a match made in heaven. All depends on whether Ahmedijinad lasts another term or we see a more moderate leader come to take his place who will reconcile with the GCC bloc and Israel.
     
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  4. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Interesting Pakistan is giving up there relations with Saudi Arabia for Iran and also moving from US camp to the Chinese camp.This maybe the worst move in Pakistan's history to put all their eggs in the Chinese basket.
     
  5. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    Methinks that chances for Pakistan Iran coming close are very very slim. They have too many irritants in the way which cannot be just smoothened over. The Sunni Shia divide, their diverse interest in Afganistan and also the development of the Gwadar port ( which could be at the expense of the Chabar port in Iran)- China cannot be the cement that bridges this divide.
     
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  6. SADAKHUSH

    SADAKHUSH Senior Member Senior Member

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    When was the last time that they made any right decision for their nation? The personal interest comes first for the Idiotic Security Institute(ISI). If one looks at the moves made by China they are as good as their brothers the so called all weather friend. Out of frustration one these days if there is any disturbance is created by militants from Pakistan in to the muslim dominated Chinas province than the situation will get even more interesting for us to watch.

    This is what the outcome is when so called leaders of the nation have a tunnel vision of the situation.
     
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  7. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    There are a lot of pre-conditions to this, ejazr. Firstly, Saudi's relations with us vis a vis direct strategic interests are limited to what USA has to say in it or conversely how long their royalty is able to hold off a Iran' style revolution. I know this sounds pretty silly but it is an open secret that KSA's leaders have founded their throne on British choices while maintain their rule as a delicate compromise between Salafi clergy and Western governments. Their foundations in terms of geo-politic strength simply are too shaky. This is applicable to all the oil sheikhdoms that we know in GCC. We already saw what a small protest in any of these kingdoms far away from their own borders can cause in their countries. Just because of one Moroccan's anger, entire GCC+rest of Arabia shook up and down like an earthquake. While I don't refuse friendship and partnership, I believe this should be kept at an arm's distance and be off-limits from strategic-geopolitc arena. Simply because GCC is militarily inept, strategically too ignorant and politically too obstinate to be of any significant consequence. They cannot be handled the way Israel is due to totally differing ways of governments.

    Iran-Pakistan-China alliance is very unlikely as well. Simply because Iranian mulla regime has a penchant for shooting itself in the foot, embarrassing potential allies and angering existing ones to the extent of driving them far away. This has been evidently visible since the last decade in which Iranian regime has left no stones turned to prove my statement here right in terms of dealing with Russia and China, two other only capable and powerful world powers to actually be of some serious use to Iranians. It is just like that with Iranian regime. They like to stay aloof. Half the time, they don't even get along with their own shia and Islamic brethren, let alone anyone else outside that circle. While there's an element of self-reliance and desire to be free of outside powers in Iran, their clerics push this obsession to out of limits and hence isolate their own country.

    Add to this the pathetic governance of India by UPA and her yellow bellied allies who haven't found a damn way to cool Iran down and pay them properly because Maino and Manmohan don't have the nuts to actually tell US in the face regarding Iranian payments. Iran was ready to accept in Indian Rupees and these jokers in GOI just ruined the moment.

    Pakistan-China alliance is strongly possible but vis a vis middle east, it will only be limited to Chinese attempting to use POK as a route for oil and trade transit rather than risk getting a blockade by IN in case of a conflict. That's the only reason why Chinese are using Pakistan. TO them, Pakistan is nothing more than a highway to trade their goods with middle east and through that, into Europe. Their plans to connect entire Asia and Europe via rail links both passenger and goods is pretty ambitious if you take a look at it.

    While we watch these countries, we must not forget Turkey which is moving away from its traditional alliance and considering other alternatives (to much irritation of majority of Turks who prefer the western world). Though I'd say Turks are the most reasonable of the entire Middle East/West Asia lot.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
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  8. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    First of all, I am not making a definite assertion. Its an educated prediction and it could be wrong. So let me address this then.

    First of all, state cooperation dynamics (alliance is too strong a word) don't work on a 1-to-1 basis, it depends on the regional environment. Iran, Pakistan relations may be bad, but what is the regional environment. Both feel threatened by the US and are closer and trustworthy of China. This is the major regional dynamic.

    The shia sunni "divide" is the least difficult issue. In geopolitics, this does not matter. Remember, Iran took weapons from Israel and the US to fight Saddam Hussain. And lets not forget that Zaradari is a shia. You pretty much have shias running both the countries now. Historically, the only country that actually militarily provided some sort of help to Pakistan was Iran when under the Shah the latest American tech planes were transferred to Pakistan. They even were working on a joint defense pact back in the early 70s but the Shah was overthrown later.

    External threat is the biggest "cementer" so to speak. And if the recent attendance of Pakistan in Iran's anti-terrorism conference despite strong Saudi objections is any indicator (Pakistan to attend Iran moot despite Saudi disapproval – The Express Tribune), they want to build their ties to guarantee Chinese protection from a US unilateral action. This is besides the help they provided in capturing Abdolmalek Rigi the main leader of their separatist group Jundullah which by some accounts was basically a UAE/Saudi asset as well that they gave upto Iran in 2010.

    The Gwadar port is a dead horse from what I can see. It is just not economically feasible. Forget the security and other aspects. The problem is that Gwadar will not be able to compete economically. One of the reasons why China is pretty much dropping it for now. (Asia Times Online ::China drops the Gwadar hot potato)

    The alternate dynamic is that GCC vs Iran rivalry. If Iran continues under Ahmadinejad who has no compulsion to stop the confrontational rhetoric. It looks unlikely that this will cool down. The nuclear program is not slowing down. And Iran recently claimed that they have missiles that can target anywhere in the Persian gulf region. ('Israel, US bases in Gulf within reach of Iran's missiles' - Arab News). This external dynamic and Indian trade, energy and political ties with the GCC emphasize the pattern I mentioned earlier.

    Again, the most suitable course of action would be for India to be a moderating force in the Persian gulf to cool down tensions. Now is the time that India should show some active diplomacy and use its good will between all players. This will also keep Iran from inching into Pakistan as well. And for heaven's sake quickly resolve trade / payment issues with Iran so that the US is not breathing down our necks every now and then. If the Chinese can do it why can't we?

    It really depends on whether India just sits on the sidelines and waits for things to sort itself out. Or it goes in and SHAPES the outcome.
     
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  9. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    @Tshering22


    Interesting points there, as I mentioned in my post above, I think alliance is too strong a word. But the way things are going, it does look like the dynamics are pushing Iran and Pakistan together because both are liable to become isolated in the world community. It doesn't mean they will be best of friends. But with declining Saudi support to Pakistan, no deferment on oil payments and no trust in the current Pakistani leadership; this will again push the Saudis to garner support from outside like Turkey, India and of course the US to put pressure on Iran.

    The other point is that Indo-Saudi or Indo-GCC relations in general are helped by US backing but are not really based on it. It is not an unnatural push together like say Greece and Turkey in the NATO but quite natural in a way. The current Saudi relationship is really a serious product of 10 years of effort from both sides. The initiation credit from the Indian side actually goes to Jaswant Singh (The Hindu : India woos Saudi Arabia)who visited SA in 2001 as FM under Vajpayee. The 9/11 attacks and Iraq invasion stalled the relationship but in 2006, King Abdullah renewed the process.

    From my understanding of the region. Other than Bahrain, none of the GCC countries will have a major problem like Egypt or Jordan. These countries have some of the highest per capita GDP in the world and they have the money to throw and domestic unrest problems. People might find it hard to believe, but the Saudis love their king. They want reforms, but there is no demand from any quarters for the King to go away like say in Egypt or Tunisia. And I think you meant the Jordanian King who founded their Kingdom on British backing. The Al-Sauds pretty much consolidated their Kingdom in 1932 and this was their third attempt to do so in the last 300 years. The conservative establishment is also a domestic issue but it will not seek to overthrow the royal family either. They do not directly interfere in FP issues.

    The main concerns for India is that this region provides a very important Energy lifeline. We have already seen the havoc that Iraq war caused us. Iranian oil imports are being sanctioned left right and center. So until we are able to diversify our energy portfolion -which is not possible in the short and medium term-this energy corridor has to be jealously guarded. We can't afford to receive another energy shock if we need to maintain high growth rates. Then we have the trade ties with the GCC block which is the biggest partner worth around $100B and the GCC itself is about a $1Trillion economy which can be new major market for additional Indian goods. Not to mention the 7-8 million diaspora working in the region.

    We just don't have such extensive ties with Iran and I don't see it becoming like that in the near future either. So this dynamic naturally pushes in giving more weight age in allying or co-operating more with the GCC bloc. Add to this the Israeli and the US pressure on Iran and you can see why Indo-Iranian ties have felt a noticeable chill in the past few years. The nuclear votes against Iran also become more understandable if this backdrop is taken i.e. Israeli, US AND GCC/Saudi pressure.

    Turkey is an interesting player, although I'm not sure what direct strategic benefit they can provide except possibly as another route to Central Asia/Afghanistan. At present, the Gulf region and maybe Yemen along with East African states are more crucial to get the West Indian Ocean region stablised and under IN dominance if we look at the West Asia region.
     
  10. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    Ejazr: thanks for a very enlightening post. I had missed some of the finer points in the regional dynamics.

    Your views on india's role mirror mine to a large extent and I have written here and in other places on this. It is time for India to show some deft work. As long as Ahmednijad is in power things are a bit iffy but if and when he goes and we see a more moderate face then will be the time for India to act as a bridge between the US led western countries and Iran.

    However I would really appreciate to hear your views on Iran -Pakistan in the context of Afganistan ( Hazaras) and also the same Shia sunni angle specifically wrt to Baharain and Syria where IMO both KSA and Iran are playing a proxy game.
     
  11. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

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    my concern here comes on whether we are allowing ourselves to succumb to US-israel-gcc pressure? we do need to find a way to make sure our dealing with iran does not significantly get affected with us getting closer to the gcc and others. this should be the balancing factor we should keep with us in dealing with the us/israel/gcc.

    on the pak-iran-china nexus, we should wait for the next federal government elections in pakistan before any firm scenario gets presented. in all likely hood plm-n looks to make a come back whenever the elections happen and if that was to happen, pakistan getting closer to ksa and china look the more likely scenario at the expense of iran and usa no matter how conflicting it might sound, but yes if ppp by any chance could marginalize the others then yes a strong iran-pak relations could emerge, but even then we should not leave aside iran. may be we our PM some day could pay a visit to iran, that could do a world of good to our relations with them.
     
  12. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    Thanks man. The dynamics that you're talking about have come and gone many times-- sometimes with Russians, other times with Chinese and sometimes even with Pakistan when suddenly mullas on both sides get a little too religiously emotional. But Iran and Pakistan can never be allies. Simply because Pakistan itself is more of a headache for Iranians. You see, socially Iranians think very low of South Asians, especially the ones that are living IN Iran. Add to it the slavish mentality of "we are your younger Muslim brothers and your descendants" by Pakistan, it simply gets worse. I've interacted with the most liberal of Iranians and some of the seriously conservative ones as well (not mullas, just socially conservative) and believe me, that's how they put it. I am merely conveying their words. Politically, Iran is too undecided to take any drastic step. Iran might be isolated but thanks to its oil exports and other stuff, it is quite well off. Things are much, much more peaceful and hospitable in Iran compared to Pakistan. What Iran can gain from Pakistan, it can gain 10 times more directly from Russians or Chinese. Besides, you must know that we're not the only ones having border issues with Pakistanis; if you get my drift. Sunni terrorist groups regularly attack Iranian forces and cities and scurry back into Pakistan. So that is another aspect that Iran is not comfortable with Pakistanis.

    The simple reason that why they choose us over Pakistanis in action is that because we deal with rationality when talking about business and politics---- Pakistanis are too emotional and brainwashed to see the rational aspect in politics.

    Of course, I agree.

    But that is simply because we are their second largest customer in Asia after China in oil imports. That is a big status which we can further manipulate to our advantage if only our politicians were not such a burden on the country.

    This is what most people assume. However, most of the news never comes out and if it does, it happens only through word of mouth. There is a lot of tensions going on in the country and the only reason all looks so calm is because Al Saud family rules the nation with an iron hand. Saudi also has a staggering rate of unemployment and poverty (I know it is hard to believe, but it is there). Money is not the problem here but views. That is what makes the cause of any overthrowing if at all, different from what was seen in Egypt, Tunisia or Algeria.

    .

    I agree. But there are totally other ways in which we can override Iranian sanctions. Chinese have found a way to do it, so can we.

    Turkey is the only intelligent country in that region apart from Israel. It has a strong scientific base, rational government and a progressive society. Though I don't like what they did recently (building stuff in POK without our consent) and supporting Pakistan openly, I think we can put that in the past and consider good level cooperation with the country. Turkish products can sell big time in India while we can also as you said, see Turkey as a marketing base for our products in eastern and central Europe apart from Russia. Our pharmaceutical industry is an international success and that is what makes Turkey an even more interesting country in terms of economic and strategic cooperation.

    Turkey is suffering from a Communist (PKK) problem like we (Maoists) are and they use some pretty fierce tactics to get rid of this menace. We could learn a thing or two from them and force the Army and possibly IAF to attack and destroy Maoists. I don't understand why Naik is so averse to bombing these sickos to stong age, but that's a different point we shall discuss later.
     
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  13. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    I am not sure what what exactly you wanted me to touch on. I assume you are asking wether the shia-sunni divide will play a major role in these areas. If you meant something else let me know.

    See the shia-sunni hostility dynamics works only as something in addition to an existing state level power struggle. The Iran-Saudi/GCC is not just a shia-sunni issue. For example, the Shah of Iran was Sunni, but it was he who actually went to war with UAE and occupied three islands that the UAE still claims and is under Iranian control. When the Islamic revolution in Iran came, toppling the sunni head and bringing a shia theocracy in power, the arab states became completely hostile to it because Iran under Khomenie was basically threatening to spread Iranian style theocracies across the Muslim world. But Pakistani groups like the Jamaat Islami ( a sunni group) welcomed the revolution. Maududi the founder of JI even went to Iran and congratulated Kohmeni on the success.

    Iran and Pakistan both have enormous influence in Afghanistan. If Pakistan tries to take unilateral control over Afghanistan particularly under the perception that it is doing so with Saudi-UAE help, then Iran will of course retaliate because it will be a threat to it. This is what happened in the 90s. But if they both make a settlement which you would expect them to do this time around it should not flare up. Like I mentioned earlier, the Saudi influence has reached its low point in Pakistan. The peak was under Nawaz Sharif and somewhat under Musharraf. But with Zardari - who is also shia with Balochi ethnicity - in power for the near term, the Saudis will be on the backfoot. In Afghanistan there is also a linguistic divide where the northerners including Hazaras speak Dari which is a derivative of Farsi while the Pashtuns or the southerners speak Pashtu. Neither of the two groups will be able to dominate and I assume that given the historical experience both Iran and Pakistan will avoid the same mistakes by pressurizing their proxies to keep in line. The recent Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan meet is any indication, then this settlement is already being forged. Iran Pakistan will not become the best of friends straight away. But they are both anti-US and they both need to settle their differences to successfully manage Afghanistan. And IMO this looks like its already happening.

    Bahrain again has an undertone of proxy game as you mentioned. Although there are of course legitimate grievances of shias in Bahrain, Iran has under the Shah claimed it to be a province of Iran even. In Syria, there is the opposite case where a shia or more specifically an Alawite minority is ruling over a Sunni majority. But the interesting thing to note about this is that the Saudis had spent a lot of effort to wean Assad away from Iran calling upon Arab solidarity. In fact, in some of the wiki leaks documents, you can see Egyptian and Saudi interlocutors saying that if Israel returns the Golan heights or establishing a peace deal with Syria, then the regime will readily cut of relations with Iran and Hezbollah as well. In other words, Assad doesn't want to side with Iran, but is forced to because it feels it needs Iran's support to protect it from Israel and the US. In other words, he is under an unnatural alliance. Then you have HAMAS which is a sunni group that is loathed by Arab countries and is basically surviving only on Iranian/Syrian support. Again, this allows Iran to maintain an inroad in the Arab heartland of Egypt and use the Palestine issue to brandish in front of the Arab League countries which has been more accommodating of Israel comparatively. Even though Egypt after Mubarak may not be as hostile to Iran as earlier, it will still maintain a distance. If Iran stops supporting HAMAS, then Egypt-Iranian relations can improve even further but that seems unlikely for now.

    So it would be more appropriate to see this as Arab-Persian power play or more specifically Khaleeji-Persian power play IMO (Khaleej is gulf in Arabic and Khaleejis refers to GCC citizens). Although the shia-sunni issues do play a very important role in some cases, it is something that takes place on top of this basic construct. So for example, Pakistan or Turkey even improving relations with Iran even though both are sunni majority countries or Central Asian countries working with Iran even though there are all almost purely sunni countries is not surprising if you understand the basic Khaleeji-Persian security competition. If you consider, the shia-sunni problem as the main issue, then all these co-operation of Iran with non-Arab Sunni countries becomes a paradox. Why would Turkey go out of its way to help out Iran on the nuke issue along with Brazil for example. This is because the rivalry - atleast IMO - is at its basics not a shia-sunni issue but a Khaleeji-Persian issue.
     
  14. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Well about the payments issue, today's news is that Iran has indicated it will not be willing to continue to give free oil for longer. Its already been 7 months so you can't really blame them.
    Iran threatens to block crude oil supply to India on payment dispute - The Economic Times
    On top of that you have the news of the Saudis doubling oil exports and that would be irking to the Iranians.

    The other point you make is interesting, if PML-N comes into the govt. it can begin the rapprochement with the Saudis and the slowdown relationship with the Iranians. But from the rational point of view, Pakistani interests would be served by getting Iran on its side if they want to stablise Afghanistan.

    IMO, PML-N will not make it in the next elections. The army/ISI combine will not allow him because he has become completely hostile to them. You might see some combination of Zardari or maybe even Imran Khan who has been meeting with the ISI chief regularly. You might win if the ISI is indifferent, but if the ISI is hostile like with PML-N, I think it would be impossible.
     
  15. Yatharth Singh

    Yatharth Singh Regular Member

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    As far as I know then India and Iran are neutral and more than that, Ahmedenijad`s view toward India is a bit friendly.
    During the voting in the UNO about imposing bans on Iran for the intentions of increasing its nuke arsenal by misusing its uranium which was used in its nuclear reactors, India remained abstained from the voting or I guess supported Iran on the fact that the blames are baseless and without any solid proof. For that Ahmedinejad also thanked India for supporting Iran.
     
  16. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    @Tshering22

    Just addressing some of your points.

    I personally don't consider domestic politics to be the main driver in policy decisions a country takes. States FP is decided based on a small group of individuals usually very smart - but sometimes dumb - based on what they perceive is in the strategic interests or survival of their country. If these people consult widely and are not ideological and think rationally and even out of the box, they will make excellent policy choices. If they are going to think in ideological terms or may "clash of civilization" terms then they will destroy their country. But even ideologically driven people make choices what they think makes sense. So if both Iranians and Pakistanis agree that the US is the biggest threat to both of them. Then that is the basis of working out a dialogue.

    Now about the sunni terrorists groups attacking Iran, I think you might be referring to Jundullah. Again, this is a historical fact that this happened. But what I am saying is that this is changing since Zardari came to power. For example in 2010, the main leader of this group Rigi was arrested by Iran on a tip off from Pakistani intelligence. Rigi`s arrest a godsend for Pakistan | Latest news, Breaking news, Pakistan News, World news, business, sport and multimedia | DAWN.COM
    And, there has been hardly any attacks since then.

    Again, its not about Iranians choosing India or Pakistan. Its the dynamics that are pushing India to move away from Iran and close to GCC countries. Oil is our biggest trade with Iran of about $12 Billion and if that is cut, even that is gone. On the other hand, Saudis have almost doubled their oil export to us. Not to mention the continuous pressure from the US and Israel on cutting ties with Iran.

    On the unrest again, I have relatives there and from what I have read about what happens there in Arabic papers or channels, there is really no threat to the Saudi regime. Even the few March protests that happened in shia areas was more to do with releasing prisoners rather than changing the regime. More recently you had the women driving protest but that does not threaten the regime. Currently, Saudi unemployment is about 10%, that is lower than US and India. Unemployment figures vary from 20-30%. But again, the Egypt protests were not about economic prosperity, employment or poverty. It was about a sham democracy where Mubarak would hold elections and claim he won.

    Saudis don't claim to be a democracy, have a lot of money to throw at the problem and most importantly, the King is genuinely liked by the people there. Its the King's job to bring about reform at a gradual pace through consensus. Which is happening. For example, 50 years ago, Saudi female literacy would be in the single digits, today there are more female graduates than male with overall literacy close 90%. The same story at a faster scale applies to the other GCC states. A good article on the stability/instability issues of Saudi Arabia is done here at the CSIS - worth the read Understanding Saudi Stability and Instability: A Very Different Nation | Center for Strategic and International Studies


    And lastly about Indian role in the GCC and comparing that with Turkey and also fitting China into the perspective. India imports 80-90 % of its oil needs. 70% of its comes from the GCC /Iran region. China on the other hand imports about 50-60% of its oil needs, and for it the Russian oil and Central Asian gas is closer. Although it has made forays into Sudan and more recently started to move into the GCC in a big way.

    Now consider the fact that while Cairo is the heart of the Arab world, Oman or even Dubai is close to Mumbai or Gujarat than Cairo. It takes about 2-3 hours to fly to India and about 5-6 hrs to fly to Cairo. Consider that this region is the richest (per capita in Asia) and can be a huge market for our products while their sovereign wealth funds which again together are close to a trillion dollars can be the much needed investment for our economy. The need for intelligence sharing and security co-operation to fight terrorism. Keeping the sea lanes around the Arabian peninsula open. And you have very strong reasons that are pushing India closer to this bloc rather than Iran. Even say that India does not engage GCC closely, then it would not be surprising that the Chinese start playing the role that India was suppose to play in this region.

    Again, what India should be doing is acting as a peace broker between Iran/GCC bloc, getting itself actively involved in diplomacy and if its successful it will really increase its influence in the region. But by being confused about what to do with Iran, it is just letting the time pass and we are coming closer and closer to a situation where either countries will see the actions as a zero-sum game. So Pakistan collaborating with Iran on Afghanistan or Jundullah is seen as anti-Khaleeji by the GCC bloc. And Indians accepting a doubling of oil imports from the Saudis is seen as anti-Iranian by them.

    I'm not sure how far the situation has been pushed to but if the recent reports of a former Saudi GID (intelligence) chief is true, then they are even ready to get nukes if Iran does so. This is very ominous indeed. Especially for an energy importing country like India.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2011
  17. AOE

    AOE Regular Member

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    I was not under the impression that the majority prefers the western world, given that I've seen polls where majority opinion is negative about EU membership after their rejection into the union, I would agree though with your point about their government, especially as it is becoming increasingly Islamist. There is also the problem that Turkey sees Pakistan in a very favorable light, and is moving closer to the Iranian regime.
     
  18. Anonymous

    Anonymous Regular Member

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    My views may be a bit unpopular here but I'll state them anyway. I think we should definitely improve our "trade relations" with Saudi Arabia without getting too friendly them considering Saudi Arabia is considered one of the most oppressive country in the world.

    Source: The Least Free Places on Earth, 2011

    It will harm the image of India having friendly relations with a authoritarian country.
     
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  19. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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  20. Anonymous

    Anonymous Regular Member

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    If we are good trading partners won't it serve the national interest? In my earlier post I did stated we should continue our trade relation with Saudi Arabia. In international arena image of a country is what counts. We shouldn't be seen as supporting a authoritarian regime like Saudi Arabia. India is a democratic country and the main concept behind India is all people have fundamental rights written in Indian constitution.

    The six fundamental rights recognised by the constitution are:
     
  21. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Earlier based on arabic paper news reports I had mentioned how Pakistan-Iran-China are likely to get closer and lead to a consolidation of US/GCC-Saudi ties on the other hand particularly in the overhang of chill of relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
    Today's Arab News editorial - AFTER Zardaris' hectic visits - is one of the first indications of this line of thought becoming more mainstream. For those who don't know, Arab News is the largest English daily in Saudi Arabia and is usually considered a govt. mouthpiece although they do allow relative autonomy on most issues.


    Editorial: Consolidating ties - Arab News

    The recent oil deal underlines the growing relations between India and Saudi Arabia

    A week ago Indian ambassador in Riyadh Talmiz Ahmad said that the dispute between Riyadh and Delhi over anti-dumping duties imposed by his government on Saudi polypropylene would not affect the developing relationship between the two. That view has proved spot on. Yesterday, it was announced in Delhi that following Iran’s decision to halt oil shipments to India, Saudi Arabia has stepped into the breech and will provide an extra 3 million barrels next month; other GCC producers are also helping. For the moment it is a temporary arrangement until India’s problems with Iran are resolved, one way or another. Iran had been providing it with 400,000 barrels a day, 12 percent of its requirements.

    This is clearly not simply a commercial deal. Saudi Arabia and India have become firm friends. Given that relationship, it would have been inconceivable, notwithstanding the dispute over anti-dumping measures, for the Kingdom to watch India to suffer the potentially devastating consequences of such a massive drop in its oil needs.

    Whether the extra supplies are made permanent will presumably depend on what settlement India can reach with Iran over the five billion dollars it owes for oil already delivered. There is no doubt as to India’s willingness to pay but it is caught in a diplomatic impasse, prevented from doing so by UN sanctions that effectively block any financial deals with Tehran.

    Iran’s decision is incomprehensible. It is bound to backfire, designed as it is to force India into spurning international law, something that no Indian government would do or could afford to do. Tehran ought to have realized that. Cutting off supplies when Delhi was trying its best to resolve the issue is an unfriendly act and will inevitably result in India shying away from future deals with Iran.

    The Kingdom’s burgeoning relationship with India that this deal underlines is certainly not intended to be at the expense of the longstanding and, in many ways, unique one with Pakistan. Saudi Arabia sets great store by it and the hope is that it will continue to flourish.

    Nonetheless, it would be foolish to pretend that there is not concern among people in Saudi Arabia at the developing relationship between Islamabad and Tehran and, to a lesser extent, Beijing. Last week, President Asif Ali Zardari was in Jeddah to explain Pakistan’s geopolitical policies and allay such concerns but it has not removed the view that Pakistan, Iran and China appear to be forming an axis.

    It is not the only potential Tehran axis causing concern. By coincidence yesterday, it was also announced that Iran has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Iraq and Syria for a $10-billion pipeline to carry Iranian gas to the Mediterranean. Had the grandly-entitled “Islamic Gas Pipeline” gone through Turkey instead, it would have been viewed as a purely commercial deal. Given Iran’s relationship with Syria and Iraq, it has to be seen in political terms. Indeed, Tehran admits as much. Its acting Oil Minister Mohammad Aliabadi is quoted in the Iranian media saying the agreement is a sign of “strengthening and deepening trilateral relations.”

    Saudis always try to support their friends and allies when they can. Others, of course, do the same. But the Saudis will not take kindly to relationships that could be seen as excluding them, or even as a threat.
     

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