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Will the new QUAD forged by the USA, India, Israel and the UAE make any difference to the old QUAD formed by the U.S. by roping in India, Australia and Japan earlier? It is being perceived that the Joe Biden government hastened to take the decision to assuage the feelings of India being left out of the Australia, United Kingdom and the U.S. (AUKUS) alliance formed recently. Importantly, all alliances were formed to combat China and its friendly nations after the Covid-19 pandemic started crippling the entire world. The new QUAD is evalulating a plan to rope in like-minded countries like Iran and Korea sooner than later.

It is pertinent to note that about three decades after the Congress-led government led by its Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao shunned aside the past and normalised relations with Israel in January 1992; India is taking a major step in framing the Jewish state within its larger Middle East policy. Prior to that, the Janata Party Government led by its Prime Minister Morarji Desai made an attempt to improve the strained relationship with Israel when their then Defence Minister Moshe Dayan visited India in 1978, albeit secretly. During the tenure of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, the South Bloc viewed Israel’s policy with lurking suspicion by linking it up with their no-holds barred relationship with the Palestenians, besides being a blue-eyed boy of the U.S. Obviously, India had the compulsion in the past to placate the Platestinians cause in the company of Soviet-friendly nations. 

It was, however, a refreshing change when the External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar during his five-day visit to Israel recently laid the foundation for a larger regional approach with Tel Aviv as a pivot, through a virtual meeting with his U.S.,, Emirati and Israeli counterparts. Suggestions have also emanated from concerned quarters that it would be ideal to include Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and France, among other like-minded nations in the new QUAD. It did not take much time for the new QUAD partners to realise France disappointment over the formation of AUKUS, as they felt being sidelined. Their President Emmanuel Macron expressed his country’s ire over its exclusion and the importance attached to the United Kingom and Australia at their expense, and, more so, on the submarines issue.    

About Mini Quad’

The new mini Quad appears to be innovative, non-confrontationist and it is being fervently hoped that it will be enduring. All the four partners have decided to come together, in spite of encountering economic and political hurdles in their respective nations. The moot point, however, is, with China as their largest trading partner, the other three countries, barring the U.S., are not in a position to antagonise Beijing openly, as they are still not assured of a whole-hearted support from Biden and his team, especially after the fiasco over the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan and the terror perpetuated by Talibans to create an uneasy atmosphere in the sub-continent, especially to India. A section of experts in international politics criticises the U.S. for its opportunistic frame of mind after it hurridely created a situation for formation of the AUKUS without any prior notification or consultation with other members of the old QUAD.  

The U.S. is obviously trying out various options, including the new QUAD to counter China’s hegemony. However, the present one appears to be more challenging for India than the Indo-Pacific one. It is framed as an economic forum, similar to the Association of South East Asian Nations. But, the ASEAN forum is also emphasising from democratic point of view, as recently it has taken a wise decision to exclude Myanmar’s military junta from its three-day annual summit organised from October 26 this year, when they attempted to gain legitimacy for their dictatorial regime. The ASEAN forum has also decided not to encourage the human rights violations all over the world. 

The New QUAD is expected to adhere to the norms and regulations of the ASEAN, wherever the brutality occurs. In that respect, the U.K. and the U.S. were quick to demand an explanation from the Bangladesh government for the atrocities committed against the minority communities in that country recently.

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