Gulf states cut Qatar off, put India in a spot
Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrein, Yemen, Mauritius, Mauritania, the Maldives and Libya's eastern-based government cut off ties with Qatar over alleged support to Islamist and Iran.
With a huge diaspora population residing in West Asia, India has to navigate the fault lines that has emerged in the region.
As the crisis broke out, External affairs minister Sushma swaraj emphasized on India’s non-interfering position and stated that India has good ties with all regional rivals which includes Saudi Arabia and Iran.
India’s stake in West Asia:
- Prime minister Narendra Modi has visited UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar in the last three years
- Crown prince of UAE was India’s chief guest at the Republic day celebrations
- New Delhi recently hosted the Palestinian president and the Indian Prime minister is scheduled to visit Israel early next month
- India’s enhanced operation with Saudi Arabia and UAE in the field of counter terrorism has yielded rich dividends
- West Asia is highly significant for India from the point of energy security, as India is highly dependent on oil imports from the region
- Another challenge will be to ensure wellbeing of Indian diaspora in the region
Understanding the West Asian crisis:
- Gulf allies have repeatedly criticized Qatar for its alleged support (that includes funding) to Muslim brotherhood, an Islamist group that is considered a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia and UAE
- Saudi Arabia and its allies in the gulf blocked Qatar media outlets, including Al-Jazeera over alleged comments made by the Emir of Qatar
- The Emir of Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Hamad Al Thani reportedly hailed Iran as an Islamic power and criticized US president Donald Trump’s policy towards Iran
- Though rich in oil and gas Qatar does not produce its own food, rather it is imported mostly from Saudi Arabia
Impact on the rest of the world:
- A crisis in the middle east will increase oil prices the world over
- Qatar hosts a US air base, which is the main regional centre for US in West Asia
- Analysts say one of the demands from Saudi Arabia and its allies will be shutting down the Al-Jazeera network