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By Ambassador Anil Trigunayat, Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi, USA, TIO: Dialogue is often the best thing for which diplomacy works tirelessly. Finding common grounds or putting it politically- a common minimum program could be the adjunct for modus vivendi in the domestic or international discord while countries graduate to greener pastures in their relationships. Sometimes it is just not possible as is the case between India and Pakistan since the possibility of the greener pastures is always decimated by the cross-border terrorism from Pakistan based groups, i.e. Hizbul Mujahedeen and scores of even while congratulating their Talibani Akas hailing their victory over the most powerful country, asked them to support in spreading terror in India’s Jammu and Kashmir. They see that with the advent of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the overt defeat of the hyperpower their extremist movement will find the wings. They also do not seem to believe that Talibani leadership is at pains to assure the international community precisely against that. Hence in some ways, they are doing a great disservice to their own kin and benefactors.
But in this one, I will talk about some good signs of rapprochement among key actors in West Asia who have had fundamental geopolitical, geo-religious, and geo-economic differences and have left no stone unturned to undermine their adversary until recently. They do realize that the global geopolitical landscape is uncertain, in flux and they have tightened their belts for a smoother take-off rather than being dragged back. This has been further speeded up as a result of the Biden Administration’s broadly equanimous policy towards major players in the region which is at variance with the Trump Administration’s overtly partial and preferential approach.
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The 4-year-old stand-off between Qatar and the Quartet (comprising of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain) was ended at the Al Ula Summit that had divided the Gulf during a critical period even though normalization with various countries is moving at variable speeds. In the meantime, Qatar has emerged as a key interlocutor in the Afghan process as well as between Iran and the USA who
hope to close the gaps in JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal). Arch-rivals Tehran and Riyadh have begun to talk with the help of Baghdad and may upgrade diplomatic ties. Ankara and Riyadh are hoping to normalize relations with the increased level of high-level contacts. UAE’s National Security Adviser was received by President Erdogan as well as by King Abdullah II of Jordan to discuss regional developments and security imperatives. UAE and Turkey have been engaged in competitive geopolitics in the context of political Islam, Mediterranean, Libya, and Syria as well as in their backyard in Qatar where Ankara has established a military base. In Libya, several major powers pitched on the opposing sides with their own militias are showing signs of some understanding even if fragile.
Even on the Israel -Palestine front pursuant to change in government in Tel Aviv baby steps are being taken. The new Prime Minister Naftali Bennet claims to be mending relations with all regional countries minus Iran. He was invited by the Egyptian Intelligence Minister to visit Cairo at the invitation of President Sisi. Bennet lauding the efforts of Yair Lapid the Foreign Minister says that crisis-ridden relations with Jordan were unnecessary under Netanyahu. For Jordan the Palestinian cause and their religious control over the 3rd holiest mosque -Al Aqsa remain paramount. Both Egypt and Jordan have had peace treaties with Israel but most of the time it was a cold peace and irritants galore. Abraham Accords have indeed engineered a collaborative momentum between Israel and UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan as some others wait in the wings to normalize.
West Asia’s hotspots have a tremendous capacity to destabilize not only the region hence even the incremental efforts to some sort of dialogue can keep the lid from completely blowing off. Of course, some uncertainty about the US role that has become circumspect with withdrawal from Afghanistan and its aftereffects has enabled regional powers to look for new partners in Russia, China, and India who are calibrating their own geostrategic calculations that might run counter to one another at some point in time. Until then let us hope peace will prevail and mutually destructive syndrome will take a back seat. Only a comprehensive regional security architecture can address these challenges.
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Curated By Humra Kidwai, Compiled By Alizah Rizvi