India-Mideast-Europe Route Has No Chance Unless Israel Agrees to Two-State Solution: Experts
18:29 24.01.2024 (Updated: 20:14 24.01.2024)
The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) is facing uncertainty after one of the partners in the project, Israel, launched its full-scale invasion of Gaza in October 2023.
The IMEC would only become a reality if there's long-term stability in the Middle East, which primarily hinged on Israel agreeing to a two-state solution, two strategic affairs pundits told Sputnik India.
Given that, Tel-Aviv's renewed efforts to operationalize the trade route to circumvent the Houthi blockade in the Red Sea might not be welcomed by Arab giants.
Houthis Seem to Be Major Threat for Israel Now
Yemeni Houthis, who control vast swathes of land in Yemen, including its capital Sana'a, have attacked Israeli-origin/bound ships in the Red Sea in solidarity with Gaza residents. The Palestinian city has been under virtual siege ever since the surprise Hamas attack on October 7.
In retaliation, Tel Aviv launched a combat operation in the densely-populated
coastal territory of Gaza that has left over 25,000 dead as of now, ruining the image of the Jewish state in the eyes of the whole Arab world -- even among those who had been eager to normalise ties with Tel-Aviv before the October events.
Arab States Won't Cooperate Until Palestinian Issue is Resolved
As long as the Israeli PM continues to reject the two-state solution
, it will be almost impossible for Saudi Arabia and Jordan to cooperate with Israel and work on the IMEC, Major General (Retd) Shashi Bhushan Asthana told Sputnik India on Wednesday.
"The biggest challenge is that the major partners in the IMEC, which are Saudi Arabia and Jordan, will not cooperate with Israel unless the Jewish state agrees to a two-state solution. As of now, Benjamin Netanyahu is saying that he does not agree with the two-state solution," Asthana explains.
Although no country that has been involved in the IMEC has openly protested moving forward with the project, what the Arab countries are saying is that as long as Israel's war in Gaza goes on, such an initiative will not move even an inch, Asthana asserted.
US-Led Western Alliance Fighting a Formidable Adversary
On the other hand, former Indian Navy Captain Sarabjeet Singh Parmar, who is currently a distinguished fellow at the New Delhi-based Council for Strategic and Defense Research, noted that the main problem hampering the IMEC is that Saudi Arabia and the Emirates don't want to be criticised for openly supporting Israel.
"Till the time the situation in the region is not brought under control, which I believe is a far shot, the IMEC will not become a reality. Do remember, when countries tried to address piracy, how much time it took and tackling piracy was much easier because it involved pirates," Parmar said in a conversation with Sputnik India.
He suggested in the current scenario, the US and the UK are taking on a formidable adversary that has advanced weapons and is trained in combat. If you want to have a maritime trade
, do remember trade will only go through a place that is stable and ensures security.
"Hence, even if IMEC is made a reality you will not find trade moving along that route till the time there is high security and stability. Nobody will want to invest money, especially private companies will not come forward," Parmar concluded.