Regional cooperation vital for Gulf security

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Updated 19 September 2014
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Regional cooperation vital for Gulf security

Cooperation among Arabian Gulf countries in combating terrorism and addressing regional issues is vital for security and stability in the region, said guest speakers and strategic affairs experts on the last day of a conference entitled “Arabian Gulf and Regional Challenges.”
The conference was organized by the Institute of Diplomatic Studies (IDS), a premier institution under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Gulf Research Center.
Nathalie Goulet, a member of the French Senate, reasserted the importance of regional cooperation in the Middle East. “We cannot have a sound society without assessing failures and making efforts to resolve the problem,” she said.
Goulet also advocated for Turkey to help solve problems in the Arabian Gulf since it shares borders with regional countries.
She commended the anti-IS campaign being aired by 30 TV channels, appreciating Tuesday’s Arab News front page coverage of the initiative.
“We should join the campaign to address the challenge,” she said.
She observed that Israeli extremism goes against every UN guideline and said it is vital for Israel to have respect for international law.
The French senator deplored the fact that the US does not react to these outright violations of international law. “When Israel fails to comply with international law, the US also fails to make a point against the violations,” she said.
Joseph Westphal, US ambassador to the Kingdom, said during the subsequent session that “our relationship with the Middle East is important, as we are committed to achieving security and stability in the region.” Westphal referred to the recent visit of Secretary of State John Kerry, who urged joint efforts in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) terror group, with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), led by Saudi Arabia, agreeing to join the US-led campaign. He pointed out that US President Barack Obama has a comprehensive policy for partnership with GCC countries and a will and vision to fight terrorism.
He said the Gulf is a vital region for the US, which is committed to its security and stability.
Michael Clarke, general director of the Royal United Services Institute in the UK, pointed out that the United Kingdom hopes to have strategic changes in the Middle East, as terrorism threatens to send the region into chaos. Rajiv Sikri, former secretary at the Indian External Affairs Ministry, said that GCC countries should initiate talks with Iran to resolve regional issues.
“If the US, as an outsider, can be a party to regional issues, there is no harm in sitting with Iran, a neighboring country, to resolve the sectarian strife plaguing the region and causing upheaval in Iraq, Syria and Yemen,” he said.
Denouncing terrorism, the guest speakers also called for moderation and international cooperation for peaceful coexistence in the region.
Participants pointed out that disunity and instability in the region harm peaceful coexistence.
Several attendees raised questions about the role of outsiders in securing stability in the Arabian Gulf, while others asserted that resolving the Palestine issue is vital for the region and that it is the lack of US strategy that is allowing Israel to continue committing its crimes.


Saudi Crown prince’s India visit will help expand ties beyond energy

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India will boost robust interactions that New Delhi has established with Saudi Arabia over the last few years. (Supplied)
Updated 5 min 33 sec ago
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Saudi Crown prince’s India visit will help expand ties beyond energy

  • New Delhi’s participation in Kingdom’s mega projects a major aspect of renewed ties: Talmiz Ahmad

NEW DELHI: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s first visit to India is a landmark development in bilateral ties between India and Saudi Arabia, according to Talmiz Ahmad, a former ambassador to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is India’s largest supplier of crude oil, but since taking office in 2014 Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to use India’s growing economy to attract more investment from Saudi Arabia beyond energy, and foster cooperation on trade, infrastructure and defense.

Ahmad, author of several books on the Arab world and twice India’s Ambassador to Riyadh, said that while the backbone of New Delhi’s relationship with the Kingdom is energy, the two sides had been discussing “how to give greater substance and longevity to the relationship on the basis of concrete projects.”

Reuters reported this week that India is expecting Prince Salman to announce an initial investment in its National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, a quasi-sovereign wealth fund, to help accelerate the building of ports and highways. Saudi Arabia has also suggested investing in India’s farming industry, with an eye on food imports to the Kingdom. 

Ahmad said Saudi Arabia’s NEOM project, a $500 billion smart city in Tabuk province on the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, would also provide great opportunities for Indian companies. 

He added that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the crown prince’s blueprint to fundamentally transform Kingdom’s economy, presents another opportunity for Indian businesses to prosper from the relationship.

“India is extremely well placed,” said Ahmad. “We are world leaders in small and medium enterprises and in the services sector. Saudi Arabia also has proposals to develop its tourism and leisure sectors, and I believe India is also well placed in those areas too.”

He also discussed how the strategic partnership had been initiated by former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who visited Riyadh in 2010, but that Modi, who visited in 2016, had added “considerable substance” to the relationship.

He stressed, though, that Riyadh’s ties with India are independent of its relationship with Pakistan. He added India and Saudi Arabia were also working together to improve the security situation in Afghanistan, to resolve the 17-year conflict between government forces and the Afghan Taliban, as well as in the wider West Asia region. 

“India has excellent relations with all the countries in West Asia, and New Delhi is well placed to address some of the concerns that all the countries have with each other,” he said.