Straddling Faultlines: India’s Foreign Policy Toward the Greater Middle East
India’s foreign policy has had an anomalous quality since the time Jawaharlal Nehru resolutely attempted to steer clear of Cold War alliances. This continues to be so given India’s unique situation of establishing “strategic relations” with both Israel and Iran, as part of its Greater Middle East policy. A study of this paradox assumes significance for various reasons. One, it offers a glimpse into the way India is reordering its foreign policy in the post Cold War, as part of its clamour for Great Power status, thus presenting a westward complement to its familiar ‘Look East policy’ which seeks to engage regions beyond South Asia. It also provides a view of the complexities involved in endorsing the American agenda in a geopolitical neighbourhood, transformed by the September 11 attacks, and yet, one that affects India’s security because of its energy reserves and Islamist ferment. To this end, this study analyses India’s foreign policy toward the Middle East and Central Asia since the late 1990s, with a specific focus on its relations with Israel, Iran and Iraq that reviews the way it reconciles immediate security needs with competing realities of economic interdependence and political sensitivities. The paper also evaluates the challenges India faces in strengthening links with Afghanistan and Central Asia.