Iranian Foreign Minister Javed Zarif Recently while delivering a ministerial address at the fourth edition of Raisina Dialogue said that regional dialogues are the most efficient way to find solutions to challenges plaguing the multiple regions, especially terrorism-affected regions in West Asia, Central Asia and South Asia.
With the failure of Gulf Cooperation Council in solving the major challenges facing the Middle East, the relevance of this idea needs to be analysed. Especailly with respecto India
INDIA and Gulf Cooperation Council
AIMS OF GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL:
1. Coordination and Connectivity
To affect co-ordination, integration and inter-connection between member states in all fields in order to achieve unity between them.
2. People to People Contact
To deepen and strengthen relations, links and areas of cooperation now prevailing between their peoples in various fields.
To formulate similar regulations in various fields including the following:
1. Economic and financial affairs.
2. Commerce, customs and communications.
3. Education and culture.
4. Social and health affairs.
5. Information and Tourism.
6. Legislative and administrative affairs.
4. Scientific progress.
To stimulate scientific and technological progress in the fields of industry , mining, agriculture , water and animal resources: to establish scientific research : to establish joint ventures and encourage cooperation by the private sector for the good of their peoples.
PERFORMANCE OF GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL:
GCC failed to provide a solution to the large number of terrorist groups plaguing the middle east and the proliferation of new groups such as ISIS has shown the incapacity of GCC.
GCC membership is limited to allies of Saudi Arabia and any country with good relations with Iran has been largely excluded from the group.
Four Arab States of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a full land, air blockade on Iran. This has shown the lack of cooperation in the body.
The volatile oil prices and the oil and gas dominated economies of middle east have made the peace and stability of the region precarious.
DO WE NEED REGIONAL WEST ASIAN DIALOGUE FORUM
West as a geographic or geopolitical construct no longer possesses a monopoly over all consequential global developments. Thus, with the absence of any power to control the narrative, regional dialogue forums will help countries come together and define the narrative.
The region has been facing dominance of few nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia with the smaller nations not having larger say in the policy decisions. Regional dialogue forums will be based on equality and thus provide platform for even small states and poor economies in putting their perspective.
Sovereignty and Peace
Admission to such a forum should be based on accepting generally-recognised principles and shared objectives, notably respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and the political independence of all states.
These regional dialogue forums can be multi-stakeholder and thus accommodate voices from government, private sector and civil society.
While GCC has no aim to focus on terrorism which is the biggest challenge facing Middle East, Regional dialogue forums can help form multilateral alliances for solving terrorism and extremism in the region.
While the aim of GCC has been clearly defined, it makes the body parochial in its outlook and thus stops introduction of new challenges. Regional dialogue forums can introduce new challenges that affect people in the region and the world effectively.
The middle east is suffering from trust deficit and conflictual relations as seen with the retaliation of Saudi Arabia stating its interest in acquiring nuclear power if Iran acquires it. Regional dialogue forums can help prevent such arms race and thus build trust between nations.
HOW IT CAN HELP INDIAN INTERESTS:
With the regional dialogue forums, India can bargain better with Middle East and communicate our interests as per Look West Policy to the West Asian Countries.
Terrorism has been the biggest threat for India since Independence and with the proliferation of terrorism in Middle East, there is always chances of this terrorism shifting towards India. Thus, peace and security in the region can help provide security to India too.
India walks a fine line to balance its interests in the region. With the development of regional dialogue forums, India will be better able to connect with the middle eastern countries and thus build trust and soft power in the region.
India’s bilateral trade with GCC countries is already near 160 billion US dollars which is largely dominated by oil and gas leading to a trade deficit for India. With the development of regional dialogue forums, India can reach out to these nations and broaden the trade between the two nations.
Non Alignment 2.0
The policy document prepared by Indian experts called Non-alignment 2.0 states that India needs to play more active diplomacy in Middle East as seen during Nehru times. Regional dialogue forums can provide us with a platform for deeper diplomacy.
Security of Indian people and their welfare is a prime objective of Indian Look West Policy and thus can be better resolved with the help of regional dialogue forums.
ABOUT RAISINA DIALOGUE:
1. It is an annual conference held in Delhi which is envisioned to be India's flagship conference of Geopolitics and Geo-economics.
2. It is held jointly by MEA and Observer Research Foundation, an independent think tank based in India.
3. Started from 1 March 2016.
4. The conference name comes from Raisina Hill, the elevation in New Delhi which is the location of both the seat of the Government of India as well as India's presidential palace, Rashtrapati Bhavan, which the conference's symbol is designed after.
5. It had 450 participants from 40 countries.
CONCLUSION: In the times of multi-polarity and Post-West world order, any platform for developing communication between nations should be appreciated and encouraged to build connectivity between nations and thus solve challenges of trust deficit. Regional dialogue forums can help consolidate the interests of Middle Eastern nations and thus drive them towards shared future built on opportunities for everyone. Thus, regional dialogue forums seem as the need for the volatile, crisis stricken Middle East at the moment.