The Under Secretary of United States State Dept. on Tuesday Sep 20 convened I2U2 counterparts from India, the UAE, and Israel on the margins of the UN Gen. Assembly meeting in New York. Mr. Jose W. Fernandez met with his I2U2 Group counterparts Indian Min. of Ext. Affairs Economic Relations Secretary Dammu Ravi, Israeli Min. of Foreign Affairs Director General Alon Ushpiz, and UAE Minister of State Ahmed bin Ali Al Sayegh.
The meet came weeks after (on July 14) Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Indian Prime Minister Modi, the UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed, and President Biden met for the inaugural summit of the so-called I2U2 Group. These four member states do not share borders, similar to the countries making up the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD, composed of India, Australia, Japan, and the U.S.) or AUKUS (Australia, the U.K., and the U.S.), which reflects a new global trend of minilateral alliances and formats that focus on specific regional challenges.
Reports say the group expressed its commitment to deepening the economic partnership among the four nations. “They took stock of current projects in agriculture and clean energy and reviewed potential projects to help further the group’s objectives,” the State Dept. said in its statement. “The group looks forward to building on the success of the Leaders’ Summit in July.”
Commenting on the strategic rationale for the I2U2, the Middle East Institute (MEI) writes: The conceptualization of I2U2 came out of the introduction of the geopolitical concept of West Asia, a region encompassing the Middle East and South Asia. The I2U2 format specifically aims to establish a balance of power vis-à-vis this region’s rising Eurasian powers, such as Iran and Turkey. The I2U2 could expand to become the I2U2+ by gradually enlarging to include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab Gulf states in the short term, as well as potentially France, Greece, and Italy in the long term. For Washington, the Indo-Abrahamic framework and the I2U2+ format would change the United States’ role from a security guarantor to an offshore balancer in West Asia. The I2U2+ would also allow the United States to meet its long-term strategic needs in the Indo-Pacific without leaving a vacuum in West Asia for Beijing and Moscow to fill while establishing New Delhi as Washington’s primary strategic partner among the littoral states of Eurasia — a geostrategic portion of the globe that Yale University international relations scholar Nicholas John Spykman famously referred to as “the Rimland.”
“This group has very interesting and even an intriguing acronym, but in terms of its political or military objectives, I think it is still in its embryonic stage,” Amb. G R Baloch based in Karachi tells DesPardes. He adds, “…should not bother us at this point of time.”
Walid Alabyad, a prominent Gulf Analyst says: All these states are focusing on the future.They are aiming for food security and self sufficiency. It remains to be seen when these projects will be completed. However, the fact that the UAE is going ahead and cozying with the zionist state when the native Palestinians are being killed, will cause dissension there. Some prominent bloggers, he adds, refused to toe the government line and openly rebuked this attempt to be close to Tel Aviv. “As far as India is concerned, the UAE cannot and does not want to be critical on their domestic issues. Across the Arab world there is total disappointment.”
A Malaysia-based analyst says, “India has spread itself into minilateral groups to share the burden and increase its range of options in a system betraying growing signs of transitional fluidity. It has maintained its close bilateral ties to the USA and remained a member if the counter-China Quad grouping. At the same time, it participates in Sino-Russian led BRICS and SCO platforms. It even is a member if the India-Russia-China triad. And now, it has joined members of the Abraham Accord to secure M-E ties and hydrocarbon supplies. It is also pursuing close ties to ASEAN. In short, India, rapidly rising through global economic rankings, is preparing for becoming the 3rd great power in the emerging new world order, pursuing its own interests by leveraging links to other major and secondary players. A very self-centered and pragmatic approach to systemic transitional fluidity.”
Dovetailing Mr. Baloch’s take, “should not bother us at this point in time”, a Pakistani defense analyst when asked to comment said that “It is our economic fragility which is making us irrelevant. The world (Middle East) will march on with willing and budding partners.”
Crucial at this stage is its formulation in a way that is not antagonistic toward other states. And, as long as it remains robust with tech agenda as the major mechanism for geostrategic integration in West Asia, the I2U2 could be the major block in the region of the new world order, an observer says.
-Irshad Salim, Karachi, Sep. 22, 2022
Honorary contributors to DesPardes: Adil Khan, Ajaz Ahmed, Ammar Jafri, Anwar Abbas, Arif Mirza, Aziz Ahmed, Bawar Tawfik, Dr. Razzak Ladha, Dr. Syed M. Ali, G. R. Baloch, Hasham Saddique, Jamil Usman, Jawed Ahmed, Ishaq Saqi, Khalid Sharif, Majid Ahmed, Masroor Ali, Md. Ahmed, Md. Najibullah, Mustafa Jivanjee, Nusrat Jamshed, Shahbaz Ali, Shahid Hamza, Shahid Nayeem, Syed Hamza Gilani, Mushtaq Siddiqui, Shaheer Alam, Syed Hasan Javed, Syed M. Ali, Tahir Sohail, Usman Nazir