This Article is by the gentleman who needs no introduction, 2011’s IAS exam topper Shri. Om Kasera.

  1. The Middle East: Present Situation
  2. India’s relationship with Middle East
  3. What’re India’s policy options in Middle East?
  4. Conclusion

The Middle East: Present Situation

  • The Middle East is a geopolitically and geostrategically significant region for US, China and India.
  • It is influenced by both global as well as regional dynamic but Currently, the regional dynamics are playing more part.
  • Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Till recently, were strong allies of United States.
  • This was against Iran and Iraq, but after the fall of Iraq, Iran is the target.
  • Saudi Arabia has adopted hedging strategy by moving closer to Russia and China.
  • Turkey has also adopted anti-US foreign policy stance.
  • While Iran continues to be the strong adversary of US,
  • Turkey – Syria – Iran alignment is evolving.
  • This is politically against Israel.
  • Iran and Syria always had any of Israel, while Turkey has changed its stance.
  • All to enjoy good relationship with Russia.
  • Turkey and Iran are engaged in military cooperation with China.
  • So, the United States has only Saudi Arabia in the region to further its interests and that too with hedging strategy. But this axis is in its nascent stage and has only regional implications, this is just a political move, not yet crystallised.
  • But still, United States wields significant power in the region.
  • Iran – Pakistan -Afghanistan triangle is also possible. In both cases, Iran is the significant player.

India’s relationship with Middle East

  • Historically India’s relation with Middle-East was determined by three factors
  1. Nonalignment strategy.
  2. Energy needs.
  3. Religious considerations for the vote bank politics.
  • As such, we do not have a strong relationship with Saudi, Iran or Turkey.
  • The Pakistan factor played heavily against India, as all three supported Pakistan.
  • But the Saudi Arabia in its recent years has moved closer to India.
  • Turkey still considers Pakistan factor.

What’re India’s policy options in Middle East?

  • it should not be driven by long-lost ideologies (NAM)
  • It should be driven by political and strategic realities.
  • The energy security and Arabian Sea should be the goal.
  • Now, India has to choose between two regional powers – Saudi Arabia or Iran, Sunni and Shia, respectively
  • Both Saudi Arabia and Iran, are not only divided by the regional power ambitions, but also have sectarian divide of Sunni and Shia.
  • Saudi Arabia as US camp while Iran has anti-US camp.


  • India’s policy in Middle East should be determined by strategic dimensions and not by political or economic criteria.
  • India should retain its strategic past with Iran
  • in relation to Saudi Arabia, India should learn from China that is acquiring additional energy security and projecting an attractive FDI destination
  • Should try to involve Turkey in more serious diplomatic relations.
  • Strong, India, Israel strategic partnership should be further reinforced.
  • The inheritant contradictions in policy options should be a challenge for Indian diplomats but “if China can do so, so can India.”
  • Indian diplomacy should be a fine balance of “looking west”, as well as “looking east.”