Recent developments present a window of opportunity for India to "embed itself as a significant player in the Middle East." The Iran-Saudi Arabia agreement to restore diplomatic ties indicates a major de-escalation between the two rivals, The Diplomat reported.
The agreement between the two Middle Eastern nations was brokered by China. On the whole, Indian interests in the Gulf will plausibly be more secure if the two bitter rivals were actively working to de-escalate mutual tensions, as per the news report.
The current developments might strangely create an opportunity for India to project itself as a more effective alternative to China. The hesitance of the US to spend additional political capital on mediating conflicts in the Middle East creates an opportunity for others to fill this space.
Some will claim that China is beginning to fill this vacuum. However, given India's long-standing ties with most of the Gulf states, New Delhi has a clear edge over China to become a more reliable partner and mediator, as per the news report. The large Indian diaspora in the Middle East is a formidable asset that provides India with a unique soft power advantage.
The Indian diaspora in Saudi Arabia can act as a steadfast anchor in relations, despite the policy shifts and external shocks. Another advantage for India is its growing cooperation with India. The I2U2 partnership between India, Israel, the UAE, and the US has already put India on the region's alliance canvas. India has strong motivations to push I2U2 as it seeks to reframe its ties with the Middle East and gain a major footprint in the region, The Diplomat reported.
Last week, the Iranian Ambassador to India, Iraj Elahi in a press briefing said the resumption of the diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia mediated by China should not be a concern for India, adding that this step could benefit India since it helps intensify stability and peace in the Persian Gulf region.
"The resumption of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran whether the mediation has been done by China or India or any other would be to the benefit of India. Since it helps and intensifies the stability and peace in the region and security in the Persian Gulf region", said the Iranian envoy.
Iraj Elahi said that the diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia would be to the benefit of India. He said, "It (diplomatic ties between Iran-Saudi) would be to the benefit of India despite it has been done by the mediation of China. I think it is not a concern for India. China is a power in the world now competing with the US and no one can deny the power and position of China. India is a rising power. So, this resumption could be to the benefit of India."
"There are different commonalities between two countries. Of course there are differences between their political approaches. The main point is that Iran should accept Saudi Arabia as it is and Saudi Arabia should except Iran as it is. We look at Saudi Arabia and other nations respectfully. Not to interfere in their internal issue is a basic principle in our foreign policy," he added. (ANI)