The recent developments around the Strait of Hormuz have once again highlighted the importance of maritime chokepoints and their connection to regional geopolitics.
Last week, Britain impounded an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar, claiming that the vessel was carrying oil to Syria in violation of the European Union’s sanctions.
Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has shed its traditional defensiveness toward the Middle East and engaged with all relevant actors in the region, including members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Israel, and Iran.
It has been a rather long learning curve for New Delhi to separate presumed transcendental religious solidarity and the logic of national self-interest in engaging the Middle East.
Today the House of Saud is becoming a valuable partner for New Delhi in promoting regional security in the subcontinent and beyond.
For the emerging forces of political moderation and social modernization in the Middle East, India is a more attractive partner than Pakistan.
As New Delhi prepares to host the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, India must come to terms with an unfamiliar idea—“nationalism in Arabia”.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India—as part of a larger tour of Asia, including Pakistan and China—should mark the consolidation of two important trends and help initiate a significant third.
For both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the new emphasis on separating religion from politics and confronting “political Islam” is not a question of defining an abstract theory of the state. It is a considered response to the grave challenges they face.
New Delhi is paying too little attention to the growing weight of the Gulf in regional affairs and the strategic possibilities that it opens up for India.