The idea of the international forum was first pitched by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who spoke about the importance of ‘synergy’ for dealing with current economic and political challenges. This, as the US demobilises from the Middle East and looks towards the Pacific to counter Chinese aggression.
The first virtual summit of the foreign ministers of the US, India, Israel and UAE concluded in the early hours of October 19. The four nations agreed to form a new international economic forum to utilise the “unique array of capabilities, knowledge and experience” that each offers.
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The group is already being dubbed the ‘New Quad’ or the ‘Middle-Eastern Quad’ on the lines of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD). The Quad, which has Japan, Australia, India and the US as member nations, aims to counter Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific.
The group is intended as an "international economic forum" that will work on furthering the economic and political ties between the four countries.
What is the 'New Quad'?
The quadrilateral forum of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and India has been dubbed the 'New Quad.'
The four countries have agreed to work towards several areas of concern, and have indicated that joint discussions will follow soon.
India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar tweeted, “Discussed working together more closely on economic growth and global issues. Agreed on expeditious follow-up."
Experts believe the new group is important for greater cooperation of the countries involved in keeping the Middle East stable.
The idea of the dialogue was first pitched by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. Lapid had said the countries have a “unique set of capabilities, knowledge, and experience that can be used to create the network that we all want to see created."
“I think the word we’re looking for here is synergy, because this is what we’re going to try and create, starting with this meeting. Synergy that will help us work together on infrastructure, digital infrastructure, transport, maritime security and other things that preoccupy us all," Lapid had said.
Comparisons with the QSD
While the multilateral discussion is nascent, comparisons to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue have already been made. The QSD, often called the 'Quad' is a strategic dialogue between the United States, India, Japan and Australia. The dialogue was started in 2007 in response to increasing Chinese aggression in the South China Sea and was accompanied by one of the largest joint military exercises of the modern era, the Malabar Exercise. While Australia had pulled out of the dialogue as its own economic ties to China grew over the decade, the group reconvened in 2017.
The group has grown in importance as a bulwark against Chinese influence in the region. US President Joe Biden hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan for the first Quad leaders’ summit just weeks ago.
Implications of the new group
As the US geopolitical machinery looks towards the Pacific to counter rising Chinese dominance, the country is slowly demobilising from the Middle East. The US has maintained significant presence in the region since the 1970s and is the major security provider in the area.
With the US shifting its focus towards the Pacific, it is looking towards regional partners to counter China's long reach in the region as well as ensure regional stability.
For UAE and Israel, both of which have enjoyed good relations with China, the latter courting their regional rival Iran and its proxies has changed the equation considerably. Both countries also have to contend with any immediate fallout of breakdown of stability in the region.
While India may not be threatened by Iran's partnership with China, being a staunch ally of the former, it looks to establish its importance in the area as well as strengthen economic ties. Israel is one of the largest exporters of military hardware to India, and the UAE is India's second largest trading partner.
On the diplomatic front, Israel was one of the major proponents of the crucial Indo-US nuclear deal and the UAE has been working to normalise relations between Pakistan and India through backchannel talks.
The opportunity to counter increasing Chinese pressure in the contested regions of Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and other areas is also of key sovereign importance to India.
What will the group focus on?
Some of the areas that the countries had highlighted during their talks include improving trade ties, cooperation in maritime security of the region, joint discussions for global public health, and joint infrastructure projects focused on transportation and technology.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that the four countries “discussed expanding economic and political cooperation in the Middle East and Asia, including through trade, combating climate change, energy cooperation, and increasing maritime security."
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)
First Published: IST