New I2U2 Grouping
Joe Biden administration has launched or upgraded several multilateral initiatives since January 2021 including the Quad (India, US, Japan and Australia), AUKUS (Australia, UK and US) and a Quadrilateral dialogue with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. Now, as part of the efforts of the Biden administration to re-energize and revitalize American alliances across the world, it has formed a new grouping with India, Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Named I2U2 – for India and Israel whose names begin with the letter ‘I’ and those of the US and the UAE that begin with the letter ‘U’ – the alliance will hold its first virtual summit in July during President Biden’s visit to the Middle East. The four-nation dialogue, which will focus on West Asia, has been dubbed as ‘West Asia Quad’.
In October 2021, a meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries took place in Israel which dealt with issues concerning maritime security, infrastructure, digital infrastructure and transport. At that time, it was called the ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’ – Ahmed Albanna, Ambassador of UAE to India, had referred to the new grouping as the ‘West Asian Quad’, though. Now the group has been upgraded and the next meeting will be at the level of the heads of government/state.
In the words of State Department spokesperson Ned Price, “Part of our approach from the start is not only to revitalise and re-energise our system of alliances and partnerships around the world, but also to stitch together partnerships that did not exist previously or were not utilised to their full extent … We consider these initiatives central to our strategy of empowering partners and encouraging them to work more closely together, which will lead to a more stable region and also to Israel’s security and prosperity over the longer term. Secretary Blinken, just last month in the Negev in southern Israel, met with counterparts from Abraham Accord partners UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, together with Jordan and Egypt, highlighting these deepening regional partnerships.”
While Israel, UAE and the United States were the natural partners in the grouping, India’s inclusion came amid its strained relationship with China and a drive to broaden its global alliances. Moreover, India, already a member of Quad alliance, shares strong strategic and economic ties with the Gulf states.
“India is a massive consumer market. It’s a massive producer of high-tech and highly goods as well. So, there are a number of areas where these countries can work together, whether its technology, trade, climate, Covid-19, and potentially even security as well,” said Ned Price.
It aims to harness unique American capabilities to enable partners to work more closely together, which is essential to a more secure, prosperous and stable Middle East region over the long term.
It is focused on expanding economic and political cooperation in the Middle East and Asia, including through trade, combating climate change, energy cooperation, and coordination on other vital shared interests.
The new group will focus also on fighting the looming global food crisis. It has come at a time when the war between Russia and Ukraine – the countries that provided around 20 percent of global wheat exports before the war – has triggered a global food crisis by disturbing food supply chains and disrupting wheat exports from both countries.
The writer is a member of staff.
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