Power Quad In The Making

The UAE, India Israel and the US have joined hands to form a new bloc — I2U2 and further deepened its engagement in areas of mutual interest

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Published: Tue 28 Jun 2022, 11:02 AM

In a sign of the growing mutual interests between the four, US President Joe Biden will host a virtual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the UAE President His Highness Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during his visit to West Asia in the month of July.

According to details shared by a senior US administration official with reporters in a background call, the new grouping will be called “I2U2” — “I” for India and Israel and “U” for the US and UAE.

This is an upgrade of the initial meeting, which took place in October 2021, between the foreign ministers of the four countries during External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s visit to Israel. At that time, it was called the ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’. This time, the meeting will take place at the level of heads of government/state, which signifies its rising importance.

While briefing on Biden’s visit to Israel, Palestine and Saudi Arabia next month, the US official said: “The visit will also focus on Israel’s increasing integration into the region, both through the Abraham Accords with the UAE, Morocco and Bahrain; through deepening ties between Israel, Jordan and Egypt; and also, an entirely new grouping of partners including Israel, India, the UAE and the US — what we call I2U2.”

He further added: “We consider these initiatives central to our strategy of empowering partners and encouraging them to work more closely together, which will lead to a more stable region and also to Israel’s security and prosperity over the longer term. Secretary Blinken, just last month in the Negev in southern Israel, met with counterparts from Abraham Accord partners the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, together with Jordan and Egypt, highlighting these deepening regional partnerships.”

In continuation of this, the leaders of India, Israel, the US, and the UAE (I2U2), are expected to hold a virtual summit to discuss ways to ensure food security as well as boosting trade and economic relations among the four nations.

Reflecting its keenness to take advantage of the Abraham Accords and to deepen its engagement with Israel without risking its ties with the UAE and the other Arab states, India is committed to joining the US, the UAE and Israel in the new bloc. The sentiment was reciprocated by the US State Department, which is interested in exploring the security cooperation among the four nations within the framework of the new grouping. Elaborating further, Ned Price, the spokesperson for the US State Department, said: “Each of these countries are technological hubs. Biotechnology, of course, is prominent in each of these countries as well.”

India had welcomed the Abraham Accords when they were signed, stating that it always supported peace and stability in West Asia – a region, that is considered as its “extended neighbourhood.”

The collaboration promises to be a win-win situation for all concerned as India, being a massive consumer market as well as a significant producer of high-tech and highly sought-after goods as well, provides an optimal opportunity for the US and the other three nations to work together in a number of areas of mutual interest. These range from technology, trading, climate, fighting against Covid-19, and potentially even security as well. According to a senior US official, the first I2U2 summit would also give Biden, Modi, Bennet and Zayed an opportunity to discuss food security.

While India already enjoys a robust bilateral security cooperation with Israel, the US and the UAE, it has not yet made it clear if it would like to explore security cooperation within the framework of the new four-nation grouping. The country has insisted that the Quad should continue with its benign agenda, like supplying Covid-19 vaccines to the Indo-Pacific nations, helping them build infrastructure and supporting their pursuit of economic development.

Price said: “India is a massive consumer market. It is a massive producer of high-tech and highly sought-after goods as well. So, there are a number of areas where these countries can work together, whether its technology, trade, climate, Covid-19, and potentially even security as well,” he said.

“Part of our approach from the start is not only to revitalise and re-energise our system of alliances and partnerships around the world, but also to stitch together partnerships that did not exist previously or were not utilised to their full extent,” Price said.

US President Joe Biden will visit the Middle East region from July 13 to July 16 with stops in Israel, the West Bank, and Saudi Arabia, and engagements with nearly a dozen counterparts from across the region and beyond.

“The first stop is Israel. This will be President Biden’s first visit to the country as President, and it comes nearly 50 years after his first visit to Israel as a young senator,” said the official.

It is part of this clear sequence of global engagements at an important moment, the official said.

“It demonstrates, we believe, the return of American leadership to bringing countries together to address common threats and challenges, something the US can uniquely do. And with new frameworks that aim to harness unique American capabilities to enable partners to work more closely together, which is essential to a more secure, prosperous, and stable Middle East region over the long term,” the official said.

Biden’s visit will also focus on Israel’s increasing integration into the region, both through the Abraham Accords with the UAE, Morocco and Bahrain; through deepening ties between Israel, Jordan and Egypt; and also entirely new groupings of partners, including Israel, India, the UAE, and the United States — what they call I2U2, said the official.

— ali@khaleejtimes.com

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