By Om Prakash Dwivedi
The history of human civilization tells us that the economy is pharmakon in nature, i.e., it can be both medicine and poison. When the economy is wedded to geopolitics, one cannot downplay the possibility of a poison overdose. Time and again, the distribution of power and the control of international systems have rendered the economy xenophobic. The fact is economic rewards are also likely to generate security risks that can also be witnessed in the case of the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor (IMEC).
At the recently held G-20 summit in Delhi, the world witnessed the announcement of the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor, a joint venture of US President Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The proposed corridor seems to have triggered a waxing and waning kind of response from different corners of the world.
Of course, IMEC holds immense promise for different reasons. The most obvious is India’s key role in advancing and strengthening the US-Europe geopolitical position in the region while also sharpening and enriching its security infrastructure in the Pacific region. By all means, the corridor is certainly a booster for India and its growing global influence. The crumbling economy and the subsequent diminishing power of the US need India more than ever before.
The plan to connect western India to the UAE via sea lanes that may subvert the role of the Suez Canal; a rail network that aims to connect the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel, culminating in a maritime route from Haifa to a few European ports is very likely to change the geopolitical power in the Middle East. Plans are also to energise the transport systems with fiber-optic cables and a hydrogen pipeline spanning the 5,000-km route, which would certainly open new avenues for international collaboration in the fields of renewable energy, food security, and the digital economy.
The G-20 summit has projected India as a global player. The US sees India as a key player in the Asia-Pacific region. It has realised that India can be its best strategic partner to negate and downplay the overwhelming rise of China. US knows that to tame China it would need to regain its firm grip on the global economy. Hence, its recent inclination towards India is also understandable. To tilt the global balance of power, the US seized the opportunity at the G-2O summit. As it turns out, this equation is good for India. While China seeks to make the world dependent on its goods and services, this new corridor may anchor a new platform for India to reach out to the global market.
When examined closely, one can understand why some Arab nations may see this new development as problematic. But it is not only about the Arab nations, for how can one ignore Russia’s proposed North-South Corridor (INSTC), which sets out to connect India, the Persian Gulf, and Northern Europe with itself! In its bid to find evasive measures to revive its economy and stabilise itself in Western and Central Asia, Russia may use clout and power to counter the IMEC. The imposed sanctions against Russia need to find mechanisms to circumvent the closed doors. Ostensibly, Russia and Iran came together, the latter also adversely hit by the economic sanctions. This new collaboration arising out of mutual needs seeks ways to revive their trade ties and joint transportation. INSTC’s establishment would, therefore, play a pivotal role for both these countries.
Perhaps, this logic led US President Biden to cast his suspicion on why the IMEC may have led to the recent terror attack by the Hamas. Biden said,
“I’m convinced one of the reasons Hamas attacked when they did, and I have no proof of this, my instinct tells me, is because of the progress we were making towards regional integration for Israel, and regional integration. We can’t leave that work behind.”
There are perhaps more ways to sum up this terror attack, but Biden’s apprehensions cannot be ignored. This terror attack has problematized the fate of the IMEC. While the world is divided into factions, defending and critiquing the terror attacks, players with vested interests in the region seem to have orchestrated their agenda silently. Sadly, this has resulted in catastrophic consequences for several civilians.
Contributing Author: Om Prakash Dwivedi tweets @opdwivedi82. His interests lie in the field of postcolonial theory.
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