Close on the heels of the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visiting Bahrain and the UAE last week, next week the Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane is expected to visit Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “During the last few years the defence and security cooperation between India and some Gulf countries have acquired a strategic salience,” experts opine.
“The upcoming visit of Indian Chief of Army Staff, General Naravane to Saudi Arabia and UAE indicates a titanic shift in security dynamics and geopolitical equations between India and the Middle East in the backdrop of changing dynamics in the Islamic world,” Brig NK Bhatia, an Indian Army Veteran, tells Financial Express Online.
Sharing his views former Ambassador Amb Anil Trigunayat says, “Joint defence production is being explored. As such Saudi Arabia is the biggest importer of sophisticated arms and ammunition followed by India hence greater scope if mutually beneficial collaboration in joint production is incumbent. Since both Saudi Arabia and UAE are India’s largest trading and investment partners in the region greater collaboration in the Gulf security architecture becomes essential.”
“GCC countries have often sought a role for India in the provision of security which has been gradually moving forward. As such West Asia especially the Gulf is strategically most important for India’s overall security spectrum including energy and Diaspora security. Moreover, West Asia is an integral part of India’s Indo-Pacific maritime domain hence mutually beneficial areas of cooperation could be discussed in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi as the geopolitical dynamic in the region confronts newer security challenges. Hence the visit of COAS could provide the requisite impetus to ongoing collaboration apart from deepening strategic ties even more,” Ambassador Anil Trigunayat opines.
Adding, “The training and exchanges between the forces of the two have become frequent, and the joint exercises and goodwill visits between the three wings of the militaries have taken place.”