. The geopolitical realignment in the Middle East, marked by agreement on the normalisation of relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, intersects with the equally significant reorientation of the Subcontinent’s relationship with the region. As Pakistan rediscovers its tradition of aligning with non-Arab powers, India must renew its defence of Arab sovereignty.
Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the engagement with the Arab Gulf has become deeper. The last six years have also coincided with a significant deterioration of Pakistan’s relations with the region, especially with the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan has been angry with UAE’s invitation to India to address the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in early 2019 and the reluctance of Saudi Arabia to convene a meeting to condemn Indian actions in Kashmir last August. Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi threatened earlier this month to convene a meeting of foreign ministers of Islamic nations, outside of the OIC, to attack India’s Kashmir policy.
Here is the essence of the emerging contradiction between Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the one hand and Pakistan on the other. Saudis and Emiratis see sharpening existential threats to their kingdoms from both the Sunni Muslim brotherhood backed by Turkey and Shiite Iran’s regional expansionism. On the other hand, Imran Khan appears to be dreaming of a new regional alliance with Turkey and Iran. Pakistan is also betting that a rising China and an assertive Russia will both support this new geopolitical formation as part of their own efforts to oust America from the Middle East.