Riyadh: Indian Chief of Army Staff, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, is on a visit to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE). The visit of the Indian Army Chief attains significance against the background of the strained relations of both these countries with Pakistan. This is the first visit of the Indian Army Chief to Saudi Arabia and UAE, and as per analysts, this becomes a historic visit. Against the background of the developments in the Middle East region, Saudi and UAE have decided to make strategic cooperation with India more comprehensive, which is reflecting in the visit of the Army Chief to these countries.
During his four days visit, General Naravane will be visiting Saudi Arabia. General Naravane will hold talks with the political and military leadership of Saudi Arabia. General Naravane will also visit the Saudi Arabian army establishments and the National Defence College. After that, General Naravane will proceed on a visit to the UAE. Since the last few months, relations of Saudi Arabia and UAE with Pakistan have been strained. Pakistan had complained that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an organisation under the Saudi Arabian influence, is not giving a proper response regarding the Kashmir issue. Pakistan had targeted Saudi Arabia, saying that this organisation is not condemning the Indian actions.
A strong reaction was received from Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the accusation. Both these countries started pestering Pakistan for repayment of billions of dollars given as loans to Pakistan. More than 2.5 million Pakistani citizens are working in these countries. Pakistani analysts are expressing concerns that both countries have made preparations to expel all these people from their countries. Panicking with the thought of these possible actions, Pakistan started moves to appease Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan Army Chief went on a visit to Saudi Arabia for this purpose. But this did not have much effect on Saudi Arabia.
Against this background, relations between Saudi Arabia, UAE and India are becoming more assertive. Saudi Arabia has a 17% share in the Indian crude oil imports. Whereas, Saudi Arabia has a share of 32% in the Indian natural gas imports. Along with this, Saudi Arabia is preparing to make substantial investments in the Indian petrochemical sector. Saudi Arabia is working towards reducing the dependence of its economy on oil exports. Therefore, Saudi Arabia has realised that cooperation with India, which is a vast marketplace, will be beneficial for Saudi Arabia to achieve this objective. Saudi Arabia and UAE have also learned that the Indian military cooperation will prove vital to maintain peace and stability in the Gulf region. Therefore, these countries are giving importance to India.
Joe Biden, who indicated softening the US stand regarding Iran, will soon be taking over as the US President. Therefore, Saudi Arabia and UAE have started establishing cooperation with Israel to stop Iran. In this scenario, Saudi Arabia and UAE have realised that a strategic alliance with India can become a major plus in their favour. Therefore, military analysts are claiming that cooperation on the military level will speed up between India and Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Against this background, this visit of General Naravane, to Saudi Arabia and UAE, has drawn the attention of analysts from around the world. The Pakistani analysts have started making noise that India stole Pakistan’s friends and turned them into enemies of Pakistan.