Why is Pakistan losing support in the Persian Gulf?

Islamabad must put up with the new reality: Gulf monarchies are not Ummah guardians.


Why is Pakistan losing support in the Persian Gulf?

September 17, 2019 (Vestifinans.ru) – India recently abolished the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, dividing it into two federal regions. Outraged by this step, the Prime Minister of Pakistan resorted to all means, including warlike threats of the use of nuclear weapons, in order to draw the attention of the world community to this issue. However, many countries ignored the appeal of Imran Khan, advising only both neighbors to resolve their differences independently.

Pakistani politicians and the public were especially discouraged and frustrated by the inaction of Saudi Arabia and the UAE , which also recently awarded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the highest civilian awards.

Historically, Pakistan considered the two largest monarchies of the Persian Gulf as guardians of the Ummah (the global Muslim community) and always turned to them for help in times of crisis. However, in connection with the emergence of the strategic configuration of India – USA – UAE / Saudi Arabia, the principles of pan-Islamism, it seems, should be reviewed, the National Interest believes.

The abolition of the special status of Kashmir, the Emirates Ambassador to India called the “internal affair of India”, a similar neutral statement was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia. Following the example of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait have also taken a neutral position on this issue. “The Islamic Ummah has clear economic interests in India,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi explained the Islamic Republic’s dissatisfaction with the Persian Gulf.

Kureshi is partly right. For both Gulf monarchies, India is undeniably a valuable economic partner. The total trade between the two countries with India reaches $ 80 billion. Nevertheless, trade does not fully explain the reasons for the sluggish reaction (or lack thereof) from the Arab states.

Muslim countries such as Iran, Malaysia and Turkey, which openly supported Pakistan in Kashmir, have many times more trade with India. The main reason, according to analysts, is the new geopolitical alignment of forces.

The key explanation is the strategic rapprochement of the United States with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which accelerated after the pro-Arab position of President Donald Trump. Despite the outrage of the public and Congress in the United States over the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen, the Trump administration continued to defend its main allies in the Persian Gulf. In return, both monarchies supported Washington in its confrontation with Iran, despite the catastrophic consequences for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

Secondly, attention should be paid to improving, despite some disagreements, US-Indian relations, which, according to Washington and New Delhi, have reached the level of strategic partnership. Bilateral trade between the US and India has reached $ 142 billion.

The third side of the triangle is to expand cooperation in all areas (energy, defense, trade, technology and culture) between India and the two kingdoms. For example, recently, an Indian consortium of oil producers signed an agreement with Saudi Aramco and the UAE national oil company Abu Dhabi on the construction of the world’s largest oil refinery in India worth $ 44 billion.

For the UAE, which employs 3.3 million Indian expats, India is the largest trading partner. The UAE and India entered into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and last year conducted the first joint naval exercises. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, provided a large plot of land for the construction of a traditional Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi.

Similarly, during his first visit to New Delhi in February 2019, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, announced the establishment of a Strategic Partnership Council to strengthen mutual ties in the defense, energy and technology sectors. At the same time, investment agreements for $ 100 billion were signed. By the way, India took a strongly neutral position on issues such as the war in Yemen and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, which, of course, was gratefully appreciated in Riyadh.

None of the three sides of this strategic triangle have common values or common borders for protection; it is a random “rapprochement of civilizations” based on selfish motives, sometimes supported by a mutually acceptable assessment of geopolitics.

In the near future, the strategic partnership between the United States, India and the two Gulf countries, according to analysts, will only be strengthened. Therefore, for Pakistan it is most reasonable to reorient on the axis of Malaysia – Turkey – Iran, which is already institutionalized through the Organization for Economic Development (D8). The geopolitically Ummah rebuilt without US allies is a new reality that Islamabad must put up with.

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