GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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Paper Proposal Text :
Gulf oil abundance sought to explain US involvement in the region\'s security during the past half century The Persian Gulf has witnessed wars, political and religious tensions, military build-ups and sustained authoritarianism. Since the first Gulf War, therefore, the United States had assured its role as the security guarantor and privileged partner of the Gulf Arab states. However, the rise of Asia on one hand, and the recent wave of discontent for the US within the Gulf on the other, is precipitating a change of great geopolitical consequence. Asia\'s growing role in the global economy and energy markets since the past decade, is set to influence the long-term political economy of the Persian Gulf. China and India’s quest for secure energy supplies is likely to shape international relations in the coming decades. While the economic consequences are already felt in the global market, the political ramifications will soon begin to unfurl.
As Indian economy becomes more energy intensive, more export oriented and more integrated with globalized economy; it would like to synchronize its foreign policy posturing with the leading powers of the world, with which it shares a whole range of interests that are structurally vital for India’s security, growth and development. Seen from this perspective, India’s increasing engagement with the Gulf stands out as an indispensable component of her strategic autonomy and commercial exigencies, and is on a threshold of creating a new discourse in line with the changing regional equations in West Asia. Moreover, the Gulf region is reorienting its oil and natural gas exports away from Western markets towards these emerging markets in Asia. Reliance on Asian markets as a destination for exports is slated to grow, as the United States shifts increasingly to energy self-sufficiency. China and India’s increasing demand for GCC oil and natural gas is unlikely to taper off, and provides a dependable market for exports due to high economic growth rates. These shifts have already begun to lead to a strengthening of GCC-Asia strategic ties more broadly.

The GCC countries had been passive spectators of security threatening developments in the region in the past but have become proactive participants in shaping outcomes in Libya, Syria and Yemen in the past few years. Overcoming the inertia of the past, GCC countries, individually and collectively, have been playing uncharacteristically proactive and substantive roles in supporting and helping each other and taking adversaries head-on. US presence has been the dominant and strongly entrenched feature of the region’s security arrangements. However, this has been creating growing popular resentment against the US and the regimes dependent upon the US security umbrella, and is providing fuel for the rise of status quo threatening Islamist forces. These tendencies will only gather more momentum in the aftermath of the ongoing changes in the Arab world. The US led sanctions oriented approach to meet presumed security threats from Iran, has only added to security volatility. After its virtual failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite huge costs in blood and treasure, and consequent serious economic pressures upon it, the US appears to be a much-diminished power in the region.

As far as India’s energy security is concerned, the greatest dangers of world energy trade lie in both the Gulf and the sea-lanes of Asia. Inter-state tensions in the Persian Gulf, including a showdown with Iran, or a major terrorism event, could significantly hamper the production and exportation of oil and LNG and affect foreign investment. Additionally, the Strait of Hormuz, the Malacca Straits, and the South China Sea all represent potential flashpoints where terrorism and piracy can strike at the heart of the global economy. It is thus imperative for oil-importing countries like India to formulate a national energy policy, and to coordinate regional effort to secure supplies. Providing security to ships, sharing intelligence and combating transnational networks will be critical in that regard and might bring about greater security cooperation between the economic giants of Asia. Thus, Asian reliance on Gulf producers will endure for reasons of geographical location, delivery speed, and lack of substitutes. This reliance will likely translate into a greater role of Asian powers and a lesser role for the United States as the key economic partner of Gulf States. If projections prove correct and the United States becomes energy self-sufficient by 2030, then at least one strategic pillar of US interest in the region will erode .However, the potential that the United States could become a net oil exporter by 2035 will provide a vested interest for Washington to maintain stability in the Middle East, as the Gulf is critical to the stability of global oil prices. Moreover, China could represent another military power to secure sea lanes, assuming Beijing continues the rapid increases in naval spending of the past two decades. Additionally, any decline in the US military presence in the Gulf may encourage China to invest heavily in naval forces to protect its access to resources and global markets.
In this backdrop of the receding US omnipresence in the Gulf and in the wake of increasing Chinese involvement, the paper would endeavor to explore Indian potentialities for multi-pronged stable relations with the GCC States. The predictive analysis through to 2030 and beyond would try to focus on:
• The course of India-Iran relations
• India-Partnered cooperative security paradigm in the “energy” sea- lanes
• Collaborating/Confronting China in the Gulf, with or without the US.