Chapter 14. International Relations Notes for UPSC Mains

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Middle East


  • Arab traders have visited India at least since the 8th century
  • Some settled in India & gave rise to Moplah community of Kerala

Middle East countries realise that at a time when US has become oil independent, India is one country that is necessary to prevent internal rifts in the area. Hence , convergence of interests have arisen


  • News
    • 25 years of opening of embassy in Israel –
      • Diplomatic relations started here
      • 1992
    • Modi Visit – 1st time ever Indian HoS visiting
      • Also this visit saw the DE HYPHENATION of Israel Palestine relations and allows us to consider each country on its own merit allowing greater Strategic Independence in Indian Foreign Policy
    • India Israel STRATEGIC PARTNERS now
    • India voted against US moving its embassy to Jerusalem
  • History
    • After independence although India was sympathetic to Jews, India did not immediate recognise Israel because of Palestine cause ( and due to domestic politics)
    • Under NAM India followed a Hyphenated Policy
    • Diplomatic relations started only in 92 after Oslo Accords were signed
  • Defence
    • Barak missiles
    • Barak 8,
      • LR SAM
      • Co developed
    • SPYDER quick reaction Sam missiles
    • AWACS
    • Israel comfortable with Transfer of Technology
    • India largest destination of Israel exports
    • Israel one of the largest defnce suppliers of India
    • Doesn’t impose End Use restrictions
      • Like USA does
    • And has some of the best Technologies
      • Eg Iron Dome
  • Economic
    • India Israel in FTA negotiations
    • Trade at 5 billion$
    • India has a trade surplus
    • Chief exports are petrochemicals and mines and mineral
    • STARTUP hub
      • 2nd largest startup market
      • Can be complementary to Make in India
  • Agriculture
    • Israel has rugged, desert land. Yet, Israel managed agriculture
    • Expertise in drip and trip irrigation, eater desalitation, horticulture mechanisation, etc
    • Can help tackle farmer suicide problems I Vidarbha
  • Water
    • 99% Micro Irrigation
    • Desalination
    • It treats 95% of its sewage water for Agricultural use and creates a Circular Economy
  • Innovation
    • India Israel et up the Technology Innovation fund – I4F
  • S&T
    • Atomic Clocks , Eletronic Propulsion System MoU
  • Education
    • Ties between Mumbai & Tel Aviv University
  • Anti terror
    • Need for cooperation with MOSSAD
  • Cons
    • India, Israel competitors in polished diamonds
    • Israel Palestine issue
    • May isolate Arab States
  • Israel Palestine
    • Palestine
      • Gaza strip on the west & West Bank on east
      • The joint umbrella organisation- Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)
      • Hamas, the radical fraction from Gaza a breakaway of that
    • History
      • Oslo accords signed to negotiate peace
      • Israel has occupied Palestine territory ever since 1967 war
      • Also runs East Jerusalem, where Palestinians in virtually same position as Jews in Nazi Germany, ie separate housing quarters, rationing etc
        • Jerusalem – US recognised it as Israek capital and planning to shift the embassy
        • Indian stand


Voted against US measures as it risks eruption of violence in the region and proliferation of terrorism which may undermine the peace process

Although, by recognising Jerusalem as the capital, US has merely recognised the De Facto

      • History of Jerusalem

Jerusalem has long been a contested city between Christians, Jews and Muslims

Earlier a temple was construced in the walled city of JerusTrumps alem

Which was destroyed and rebuilt many times

After the Muslim invasion, it was destroyed and now Temple Mount ( Muslim’s 3rd holisest place lie ) . Jews worship the old remains of the walls

Situation changed after WW1 after Balfour declaration when the British became masters of the region and it led to a Zionist movement . Jerusalem was originally part of Jordan

After formation fof Israel, during the 6 year war, Jerusalem came undee Israel control, although East Jerusalem is strictly under Palestinian regime ( West Bank)

      • Trump’s interventionist policy in Middle East is part of many other events like Derecognition of Iran Nuclear deal, Millitary pact with Saudi etc
    • Steps required
      • Israel
        • Stop building of more settlements in occupied West Bank
        • Support PLO
        • Peace brokering
        • As the bigger brother, has greater responsibilty
      • Palestine
        • Stop tunnel creation
        • Move away from terror funding, association with Hamas
        • Efforts to prevent attacks against Israelis
  • Palestine and India
    • Fist non Arab country to recognise
    • Hyphenation – Although reversal recently, Modi visiting only Israel
      • Not much opposition from Arab worls
      • Are OK
      • But balanced by Palestine President visiting India and visit of Indian Foreign Minister
    • Supports Palestinian cause
    • Building tech park at Ramallah
    • Other soft Diplomacy
      • Health sector, Youth and sports, Agriculture
    • Necessary for India’s commitment to NAM, mediation, terrorism, the more peace with ISRAEL, the more Israel will be able to cooperate with India, Indian diaspora and soft diplomacy
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  • India – Afghan- US
    • Recently, Trump reversed the plan to withdraw US troops , and has suggested for more troops deployment to ” Win the War”
    • Indiacations of more engagement and space for Indian collaboration has alos been highlighted
    • And has criticised the role of Pak based Terror cells
  • Economic
      • To circumvent Pakistan blocking APPTA extension
      • But, is suffering from issues of inadequate no of transport planes
    • FTA
    • 10 billion$ steel project in Afghanistan by Indian steel consortium
    • Rail and road route to connect this with Chahbar port
      • Cost around 5 billion $
      • Would remove technical hurdles for operationalizing of And consolidate India’s position
      • Road called route 606
      • Or Delang Delaram road
    • India has given 2 billion dollars of financial assistance till now
    • India has provided duty free access to afghan exports under south Asia free trade agreement ( safta) in 2015
    • TAPI
    • Salma Dam – 45 MW in Herat
    • Afghan Parliament built by India
    • TRADE
      • Need to become a member of APTTA ( AF Pak Transit Trade Agreement) so that trade with India can pass unhindered via PAK – currently the agreement bars India to access
      • See Vision March -17- 15
  • Strategic
    • Sale of Mi-25 attack helicopters
    • Both countries share concerns about Pak’s good terrorist bad terrorist nuancing
    • India needs to play a greater role in Afghan’s policy determination by applying for inclusions in QCG etc
    • Need to work upon Strategic Partnership Agreement signed in 2011
  • Terrorism
    • Pak based elements
    • Taliban – ISI supported . Similar JeM, LeT
  • Social
    • India built the Parliament of Afghanistan
    • Health
      • Afghani patients visit India for cheap treatment
      • Prosthetic limbs
  • Political
    • Heart of Asia
      • Istanbul declaration
      • Memeber countries – All important nations of Asia including India, Pak, China, Russia, Saudi, Iran (NO JAPAN though )
      • Associate countries are USA, UK, Japan, France, Germany
    • SAARC
  • Challenge
    • Proposed expansion of CPEC to Afghan
    • Terrorism– Kandhar embasy attack in 2008
    • Indian influence may decline
      • QCG
      • Quadrilateral Coordination group having US, China, Pak and Afg
      • For talks with Taliban
      • Although having troubled times because of trust deficit
      • Similarly, role of SCO in Afg
    • Withdrawal of ISAF
    • Pak
      • new govt led by Ashraf Ghani has shown coziness to Pak
      • MoU held between of ISI and Afgahn intelligence agency
  • Update
    • Ghani has now openly blamed PAK for inciting Taliban
    • Ghani’s support to Indian position on Balochistan
    • India 3 Mi helicopters
    • Visit of Afghan Army chied with a request for greater ammunititon supply
  • Crisis in the unity govt

expatriates in Middle east

  • Expatriates in middle east send home 33 billion dollars a year, as against 10 billion dollars by us NRI
    • 60% of all remittances
    • The Hindu calls them “ The real NRI” due to remittances and investment
    • Remittance saw a 90% drop this year due to oil crisis
  • Visa problem
    • Often employers take away their passports
    • Workers left at their mercy
  • Exploitation of workers
  • Nitaqat law , Kafala System
  • Elaboration required


  • Economic
    • Indian investments
      • Chabahar Port
        • Issue – Pak was also one of the invitee countries. Hence we should not take Iran for granted, instead we should continuously engage with it
        • For crude oil and urea
        • Counter against Chinese built Gwadar port a 100 k adrift
        • Other benefits

Connectivity with Afghanistan

Trilateral Transport Agreement


India, Iran, Afg

Via Indian built Route 606 or Zaranj Delaram Road India built in Afg in 2009

Provide better evacuation from 10 billion $ steel plant being built

And circumvent Pak to reach Afg

access to central Asia and Russia

International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC)

13 countries

Link between Iran, central Asia, Russia via Caspian Sea

Using rail, road & sea

India to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement, an international transport and transit corridor facilitating transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.

An agreement similar to INSTC

Would help synchronize the two

Another route to reach Eurasia

Free trade zone around the port

Indian investment in port with 500 million dollars. total in free trade area could be worth 20 billion $

  • ONGC- Farzad gasfields
    • ONGC discovered the gasfields
    • However, in the wake of sanctins of Iran, India made no claims to invest
    • Now situations are complicated
      • Sanctions are lifted, India could seek again
    • But, Iram seems more willing to go to American & European companies
    • Has led to India reducing import from Iran
      • And Iran has retalliated by reducing the payment window
  • Trade
    • Oil
      • Imports slipped by over 66%
      • Earlier, Iran 2nd largest supplier
      • Proposed Iran India LNG Pipeline
    • Overall, India has a due of 6 billion $
  • Political
    • Balance between 3 poles of Shia Iran, Sunni Saudi and Israel
  • Strategic
    • Chabahar port 65km from Gwadar
    • India- Iran axis given common rift with Pak
    • International North South Transport corridor vs Chinese OROB
    • Pipeleline
      • Iran Pak India pipeline
      • Now an underground pipeline from Iran being mooted bypassing Pak
  • Cultural
    • Persian ties
    • Parsi
  • Elaboartion Required
  • Challenge
    • India voting against Iran in IAEA after US Pressures
    • Crude oil imports from Iran fallen to 1-3rd. Before, it used to be the 2nd largest
    • Delay in Chahbar has attracted Iranian eyes
    • Iran Pakistan India Pipeline inlimbo
  • Nuclear deal
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P5+1 group

  • Secondary nuclear related sanctions” have been lifted
  • But sanctions continue over issues related to terrorism, missiles, and a general Trade Embargo
  • Other countries can resume ties but financial transactions have to bypass US (or whole EU +3 ??)
    • Hence, India difficulty in settling oil dues of 6 billion $


  • The UAE federation consists of 7 independent emirates.
  • India UAE
    • Trade
      • bilateral trade is 60 billion dollars
      • UAE India’s 3rd largest trading partner.
      • More importantly, trade is almost balanced
      • FTA talks between India and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council )
    • Energy security-
      • The UAE meets 10% of India’s crude oil needs.
      • More important when Saudi is charging premium on oil to Asians
      • Strategic oil reserve in Mangalore by an UAE firm
        • 2/3rd of it available to India for free
        • Remaining third to be used by the firm for commercial purposes
    • Investment
      • UAE has a SWF of 800 billion dollars
      • UAE to spend 75 billion$ in Indian infrastructure (NIIF) out of SWF
        • Some glitch
        • UAE said India should carry out some structural change before accessing SWF funds
    • Defence
      • Both use similar platforms like Rafael
      • Coopreration in anti terror and information sharing
      • Millitary Exercise
      • Interaction every 6 months between NSA
      • Collaboration in money laundering, drug trafficking, cyber crime
      • Strait of Homruz
      • Presence of criminals like Daud Ibrahim
    • S&T
      • Cooperation in space – remote sensing
      • In renewable energy
    • Expatriate population
      • 2.5 million Indians live in UAE – 30% of UAE population
      • remitting 13 billion dollars annually.
      • . However India must seek better laws for humane treatment of Indian workers.
    • Food security
      • India to build a Farm to Port project – A sez like in food sector
    • Diplomacy
      • India Pak cricket diplomacy – Sharjah


  • Trilateral balance between Saudi, Iran and Israel
    • Tilt now towards Israel and Saudi
  • Growth of ties
    • Energy security partnership in 2008
    • Riyadh declaration in 2010 – Strategic partnership
    • Defence partnership in 2014 and now highest award to Modi
  • Pros
    • India’s largest supplier of crude oil
      • To charge Premium on exports to Asia
      • Need to diversify to Venezuela, Nigeria, Brunei, Iran
    • India is the largest recipient of remittance from the kingdom
    • 3 million Indian workers
    • Strain with Pak ( a long time Ally ) over its growing alliance with Iran
      • Can be used to pressurise Pak
      • Also refused to join Saudi’s bombing in Yemen
    • De Facto head of the Sunni kingdom
    • Cultural
      • Religious Tourism
      • Mecca
    • Recent deals on counter terrorism, intelligence sharing, extradition
  • Challenges
    • Expatriates
      • Nitaqat law
      • Saudi sex slavery
      • Chopping off hands of Indian housemaids
        • Housemaids mostly from Tamil Nadu, Telangana region
        • Challenge

The Saudi state falicilitates environment of impunity for their Foreign Employers

Saudi has refused to implement the Indian scheme of providing for security deposit of 2500$ in Indian embassy before approaching recruitment agents in India

      • India is looking to ban Saudi employing Indian housemaids
    • Terrorism
      • Funding to Wahabi groups
      • Yemen, Syria destabilisation policy
    • Geopolitical
      • Saudi Iran tensions
      • Now Saudi and Qatar tensions
      • Yemen war
      • Pak Ally
        • Allied force led by former Pak general
      • Succession issues
    • Economic
      • Premium charge of Oil exports to Asia
      • Need to diversify to Africa (Nigeria, Mozambique, Sudan), Venezuela,


  • Highest PCY
  • To end Kafala System
    • Any worker needs to take permission from employer before changing jobs or leaving the country
    • Was the means how Human Rights violation occurred
    • But, still need permission before going back to India
    • India – the largest immigrant group
  • To host WC 2022, Purchase of PSG and Neymar
  • Isolation by the S Arabia led GCC
    • Over Qatar growing proximity with Iran
    • And arguable Terror links
  • Economic
    • Largest LNG supplier
    • SWF


  • Visit by President Erdogan
  • History
    • Mughal rule
  • Ties can be better
    • Turkey talked of it mediating the Kashmir crisis
    • In joint statement, did not talk about the terror network originating from Pak, but talked about Naxal issue
    • NSG and UNSC- Supports but says other countries too
    • In general, proximity with Pak
    • President of Cyprus, an adversary of Turkey, recent visit to India
    • May lead to deteroriation of relations with Israel
  • Possible Areas of Cooperation
    • Trans Asian Railway – ITI-DKD
      • Istanbul to Dhaka via Iran, Af, Pak and India
      • Possibl extension to Myanmar
  • See the constitutional referendumm
    • Presidential power
    • More terms
    • A way to hold greater grip
    • And possible reduce the impact of Kemalism
    • May lead to reduction in Secularism
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The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet. It has been selected for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.

The quartet comprises four organisations:

  • the Tunisian General Labour Union.
  • the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts.
  • the Tunisian Human Rights League.
  • and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers.

But the Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasized that the prize is awarded to this quartet, not to the four individual organizations as such.

About National Dialogue Quartet:

  • The quartet has played a key role in mediating between the different parties in the country’s post-Arab Spring government.
  • It was created in 2013, two years after the revolution, when security in the country was threatened following the assassination of two key politicians and deadly clashes between Islamists and secular parts of society.
  • The Arab Spring originated in Tunisia in 2010 and 2011, but it quickly spread to other countries in North African and the Middle East. In many of these countries, the struggle for democracy and human rights has come to a standstill or suffered setbacks. Tunisia, however, has seen a democratic transition based on vibrant civil society, with demands for respect of basic human rights.
  • Tunisia’s uprising was the first and most successful of the Arab Spring



They are Sunni Muslims (as are ISIS in shia dominated iraq). After the end of first world war , Ottoman empire was disintegrated by Treaty of Sevres and Allied power wanted to create Kurdistan for the Kurds who are nomads spreads across syria , iraq, iran, turkey.But this never came in to picture. Described as people without a state Have been persecuted in each of these states. After Saddam Hussain Iraqi Kurdistan have been enjoying Semi autonomy but their demand for full independence have not been met. Kurds are liberal and they believe in gender equality

India &Kurds

Initially against their demand of independent kurdistan and supported unified Iraq. But after ISIS, is considering a course correction Kurdish region is a oil rich and has a stable economy which can support India’s growing energy demand.Stable west asia is in the interest of India as it is the lifeline of India in terms of petroleum supply. Has a large population of Indian diaspora

India recently inaugrated a consulate in the Kurd region – will also help in evacuation process

Fight against ISIS:

-ISIS is a Sunni organisation which aims to create a caliphate where there will be no place for Apostates(those who don’t believe in core Islamic belief of Wahabism or Salafism – the ultra conservative Islamic philosophy – such as the one practised in Saudi Arabia where full Sharia law is followed )

-Kurds are also Sunni but they are different from Arab Sunnis and hence ISIS treats them as Apostates,hence fight against it.

-On Kurd part, Fight against ISIS is to capture the territories which they see as “their land”,


  • Iraqi Kurds have traditionally been American ally
  • On Syrian side, peoples protection group (YPG) militias fighting against Isis
  • Dilemma – ypg close to Kurdistan workers party ( PKK ) in turkey
    • Labeled terrorist in Ankara and Washington
    • If Kurds unite, it would counter turkeys interests
    • Hence, bombing pkk


  • Salafism
  • Against modernization
  • India
    • Showed India under its caliphate
    • Raise call for Jihad as Hindu nationalism against islam