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I2U2 Group: The West Asian QUAD

Context

  • According to a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the first-ever I2U2 Virtual Summit on Thursday (July 14), alongside the heads of state of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States (MEA).
  • A senior US official first mentioned the grouping in October of last year.

Relevance

GS Paper 2: International Relations: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting the Indian interests

Mains Question

“India’s relations with Israel have recently acquired a depth and diversity that cannot be reversed.” Discuss in the light of I2U2 Grouping and also Comment on the New West Asian Politics.


What does I2U2 stand for?

  • I2U2 stands for India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, and was also referred to as the “West Asian Quad” by Ahmed Albanna, UAE Ambassador to India.
  • When External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Israel in October 2021, a meeting of the four countries’ foreign ministers took place. At the time, the organisation was known as the ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation.’
  • Countries have had regular sherpa-level interactions to discuss potential areas of cooperation.

Aim of I2U2 grouping

  • The group’s goal is to talk about “common areas of mutual interest, to strengthen the economic partnership in trade and investment in our respective regions and beyond.”
  • The countries have mutually identified six areas of cooperation, with the goal of encouraging joint investments in water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security.
  • The countries will look to modernise infrastructure, explore low-carbon development avenues for industries, improve public health, and promote the development of critical emerging and green technologies with the help of “private sector capital and expertise.”

The growing engagements

  • The grouping also highlights India’s growing engagement with countries in West Asia, including Israel, with whom India has developed closer ties in recent years under PM Modi. PMs also paid a brief visit to the UAE after the G7 Summit two weeks ago.
  • The US President’s current visit will also highlight Israel’s growing integration into the region, both through the Abraham Accords with the UAE, Morocco, and Bahrain and also through an entirely new grouping of partners that includes Israel, India, the UAE, and the US — what we call I2U2.”
  • The Abraham Accords of 2020 resulted in Israel formally normalising diplomatic relations with the UAE and two other countries in the region, signalling a significant shift in West Asian countries’ attitudes toward Israel.

Abraham Accords?

  • The official name for the Israel-UAE normalisation agreement is the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement. The United States, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to it in a joint statement on August 13, 2020.
  • Following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, the UAE became the third Arab country and the first Persian Gulf country to agree to formally normalise relations with Israel.
  • At the same time, Israel agreed to postpone plans to annex parts of the West Bank. The agreement formalised the two countries’ long-standing but strong diplomatic ties.
  • The treaties are named after Abraham, the patriarch revered as a prophet by both Judaism and Islam.
  • According to the agreements, the UAE and Bahrain will establish embassies and swap ambassadors, and will collaborate with Israel in a variety of fields, including tourism, trade, healthcare, and security.
  • The Abraham Accords also permit Muslims from around the world to visit Israel’s ancient sites and pray quietly at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest site.

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October 2022
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