India’s Arab Conundrum: IMEC Roadblocks – OpEd


The Israel-Palestine conflict has brought to light a concerning aspect of India’s stance a subtle but discernible undercurrent of Islamophobia and biases toward other nations, particularly those in the Arab world. India’s support for Israel has underlying implications for its international relationships. The conflict has exposed Indian Islamophobic sentiments and biases of India towards Arab nations. The downside of the issue is involvement of Indian intellectuals and educated strata of Indian society which needs to be exposed. There are also questions arising on India-Arab friendship which is nothing but a façade. 

At the center of this complex web is the involvement of Indian intellectuals and the educated strata of Indian society. Some prominent Indian voices have taken to social media platforms to express their views on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The trend is alarming as there is contentious propaganda by Indian intellectuals i.e Gaurav Arya, Sonam Mahajan, Aditya Raj Kaul, Sri Parnapathak etc on social media accounts reproaching Arabs in general and even Iran which needs to be highlighted for sensitizing Middle East/Arab Muslims to show true face of India.

These accounts have used their influence to shape the narrative. Amidst the ongoing Palestine situation there is a highly skewed trend on these Indian accounts supporting Israel and inciting violence against the Palestinian civilians. While freedom of expression is a fundamental right, the content disseminated by some Indian intellectuals has sparked controversy. Their social media accounts have been rife with reproaches against Arabs. Such content not only raises questions but also demands a closer look at its impact on India’s diplomatic relationships. However, the key question arises – what are the implications of these influential voices on India’s relationship with Arab nations and the Muslim population?

There was a continuous twitter trend #IndiaWithIsrael wherein Muslims were bashed hardly without getting core of the issue. This exhibited the islamophobia mindset of Indians and the plight of the Muslims can be gauged for this instance. The recent trend on X is a poignant example of how the conflict has exposed the latent Islamophobia within some sections of Indian society. This incident serves as a stark reminder that despite India’s diverse and pluralistic ethos, pockets of intolerance and prejudice still exist. This is moment of introspection for Arab world where Indians are seen as friends not foes and familial bonds are entrusted without objectivity/seeing evil in India. One of the most concerning trends amid the ongoing Palestine situation is the growing support for Israel among Indian accounts, accompanied by incitement of violence against Palestinian civilians. The presence of this trend is alarming for several reasons.

The emergence of a skewed trend of Indian accounts supporting Israel and making disparaging remarks about Arabs, particularly amidst the ongoing conflict, is troubling. It raises questions about the motives and sentiments behind such support.

The propagation of contentious propaganda on social media platforms adds to the complexity of the issue. Indian intellectuals, mentioned earlier, have played a significant role in shaping the narrative. Their content, in some instances, not only portrays a lack of empathy but also contributes to the existing tensions in the Middle East.

One of the most crucial aspects of this issue is its potential impact on the India-Arab friendship, which, until now, which had been perceived as a strong bond. India has long been seen as a friend however, recent events reveal the need for a more objective evaluation, looking beyond the surface to recognize any possible prejudice and negative sentiments emanating from India. 

In light of recent events that have unveiled the latent Islamophobia within the Indian society, it is crucial to examine how this could impact significant initiatives, such as the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC). The IMEC, a project backed by the governments of India, Saudi Arabia, UAE, the EU, and the USA development spanning Asia, the Arabian Gulf, and Europe.

However, the success of such an ambitious project hinges on the cooperation and trust of all involved parties. India’s recent displays of hatred and bias toward Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the broader Arab world, cannot be overlooked. The key nodal points in the IMEC corridor is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the UAE and this fact is where the potential stumbling block lies. This initiative is not only about trade but also about forging deeper diplomatic ties and cultural exchanges.

Saudi Arabia, as a linchpin in this grand vision, plays a pivotal role. Its strategic location and economic prowess makes it a vital connector in the corridor, as it facilitates the seamless movement of goods, capital, and people between regions. The Kingdom’s participation and cooperation are essential to the success of the IMEC. Yet, the recent events related to India’s bias and Islamophobia, especially within the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, have strained its relationships with several Arab states, Saudi Arabia included. The repercussions of such strained diplomatic ties can ripple into the IMEC project.

For the IMEC to flourish, it necessitates strong relationship with Arab states, especially the Arabian Gulf nations. However, the recent incidents have raised questions about the future of these alliances. The success of the IMEC depends on various factors, including regional stability, political cooperation, and mutual trust. If India’s current stance continues to fuel discord and mistrust among Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, this clearly jeopardizes the project’s objectives. Strained diplomatic relationships, inefficiencies, and a lack of willingness to invest in the corridor, hindering its potential to bring prosperity to the regions involved.

In light of these concerns, there is a need for a call for reflection and course correction, it is essential for all stakeholders particularly the Arabs, especially the Indian government’s stance reflects the implications of their actions and statements. 

Asma Khan Durrani

Asma Khan Durrani is an expert in Strategic Affairs. She is a student of Defense and Strategic Studies. She has done M.Phil. from SPIR Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad. She has also been published internationally. She tweets @AsmaKhan_47

One thought on “India’s Arab Conundrum: IMEC Roadblocks – OpEd

  • October 18, 2023 at 5:37 am

    It is sad to see an article from a Strategic Affairs expert talking about Islamophobia and biases toward other nations. International relations and diplomacy does not work on religion, India has one of the largest population of Muslims in the world and they have held highest positions in the country including the President.
    The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the one based on Islamic religion and is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the UN. It has a membership of 57 states spread over four continents and the author talks of India’s undercurrents of Islamophobia. OIC has meetings in Pakistan and talks against India.
    India has always stood against terrorism and raised its voice against it on all platforms. Indian Prime Minister Modi’s statement has been misconstrued as direct support for Israel. So what Israel has been India’s friend as is Russia. What Modi said is, “India strongly and unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”


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