Signs of a Regional RealignmentAn unprecedented announcement by India\nand the UAE that the two national security advisers would meet every six monthsIndia, an attractive destination for the UAE in\nterms of pouring surplus funds, also allowing to have a brush with the country’s\nIT techniquesFissures appear in the Pakistan-GCC\npartnership, following the former’s refusal to join the war in YemenIndia owes it to the UAE in its fight against\nterrorism when in 2012, the latter extradited LeT and IM terroristsThe bonhomie during Modi’s maiden\nvisit to the Arab world signals beginning of a major regional realignmentPrime\nMinister Narendra Modi has just concluded a successful stand-alone visit\nto the United Arab Emirates. In particular, the joint statement on fighting\nterror together has been hailed in India. It seems to send a clear message\nto Pakistan at a time when cross-border firing between the two\nneighbours has left at least eight people dead on the Indian side.What was unprecedented\nwas that Modi and crown prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al\nNahyan decided that the two national security advisers would meet every\nsix months and would host regular counter-terrorism meets. This is an agreement\nIndia has not entered into with any other country. The UAE also agreed to work\nwith India adopting the Comprehensive Convention against Terrorism\nthat India had piloted in the UN.All this assumes importance because hitherto the UAE had not sufficiently appreciated India’s\nconcerns regarding terrorism, while being closely allied\nwith Pakistan.India, a Natural\nChoiceYet, watchers of the\nregion should not be surprised because the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)\nstates had been pivoting towards India for some time now.While the GCC remains\nthe major supplier of India’s energy requirement and foreign remittances, they\nhave in recent years been pursuing a ‘look east’ policy looking for non-Western\neconomies to invest their surplus funds, keen on diversifying their petroleum-based\neconomies by moving into the knowledge industry, especially now, given their\nrecent disenchantment with the US role in the region.India, therefore,\nbecomes a natural choice for playing a leading role, especially given its IT\nand technological expertise with its pool of skilled but cheap human resources.\nIn 2013, for instance, the Saudis invested $100 million in\na Bangalore R&D centre. India is the UAE’s second largest trade\npartner.The past couple of\nyears has seen many high profile visits between India and the GCC, including\nthe foreign minister of the UAE, Saudi King Salman (then crown prince) in 2014\nand more recently the Emir of Qatar visiting New Delhi.India also entered\ninto defence cooperation with a number of GCC states, including the UAE.Common Plank of TerrorismA watershed moment\ncame with the visit of Saudi King Abdullah to India in 2006 and both sides\nthereafter signed an extradition treaty, whereby in 2012 the Saudis extradited to\nIndia wanted Indian Mujahideen and Lashkar-è-Taiba operatives, one of held a Pakistani passport. This was significant, given that Pakistan was a Saudi ally in the region but it was widely believed that the former’s notoriety\nas a terror hub had by then already had the Saudis worried. After all,\nOsama Bin Laden’s avowed objective was the overthrow of the house of Saud.This terror threat has\nincreased manifold now with the rise of the Islamic State which too seeks dismantling of Arab regimes in the region and whose intent can be seen in\nthe attacks taking place in the heart of the GCC states.Disenchantment with\nPakistanSimultaneously,\nfissures have appeared in the Pakistan-GCC partnership, when Pakistan refused\nto join the war in Yemen earlier this year.The GCC, particularly\nUAE and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have poured billions of dollars into the\nPakistani economy and Pakistan often provided military and police service\nfor them in a perfect client-patron relationship.Nawaz Sharif, who had\nfound refuge in KSA during his years of exile, was expected to agree immediately\nwhen asked to join the Arab military campaign in Yemen; instead, he took the\nissue to the Pakistani parliament which voted for neutrality.The UAE was the first\nto respond with its Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeting\n‘...the moment of truth distinguishes between the real ally and the ally of\nmedia and statements...the vague and contradictory stands of Pakistan and\nTurkey are an absolute proof that Arab security...is the responsibility\nof none but Arab countries’. Pakistani twitterati had erupted in\nanger.The Saudis also let\ntheir displeasure known, though in more veiled terms.Strengthening TiesContrast this with Gargash on August 17 tweeting a selfie of himself with Modi,\nsaying “flying to Dubai with Prime Minister Modi. Privileged to be a part\nof his historic visit to the UAE, and to get an insight on a truly remarkable\nman.” He went on to tell the media “Obviously, India is a country of\ninstitutions, and the credibility of New Delhi is attractive and respectable.\nThe future challenges require deep-rooted and dependable friendships.”The significance has\nnot been lost, certainly not on Pakistan whose media has been\nspeculating since April on whether their refusal to participate in Operation\nDecisive Storm would pave the way for greater Indo-Arab cooperation. After\nall, India can offer the GCC whatever Pakistan can offer and more.Modi’s visit to\nthe UAE has been covered in glowing terms in the UAE media. Sultan Sooud\nAl-Qassemi, an Emmirati political commentator and a kind of Arab youth icon\nlive tweeted Modi’s speech, going on to say “Indian PM @narendramodi has as\nmuch charisma as I’ve ever seen in a world leader.”On the other hand, a\ncouple of Pakistani media personalities were recently arrested in KSA and\nUAE, on charges of terrorism and fraud, respectively. Zaid Hamid arrested in\nKSA is known to be rabidly anti-India.It might thus be fair\nto say that it was not just Modi, the UAE too sent out a message\nto Pakistan during Modi’s visit. And in the near future the\nGCC can be expected to pursue ties with India with greater vigour.While the cleavage\nbetween Pakistan and the Arabs may not be absolute, what was witnessed during\nModi’s visit may be the beginning of a major regional\nrealignment where both sides stand to gain.(The writer is a Delhi-based freelance journalist) We'll get through this! 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