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India and Oman in joint military exercises 17, November 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Oman, Qatar, The Emirates, The Sub Continent.
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The Indian Air Force and the Royal Air Force of Oman engaged in joint exercises towards the end of October. Omani Jaguars and F-16s along with Indian Darin-I Jaguars and IL-78 MKI air-to-air tankers took part in the joint manoeuvres to “enhance understanding of operational, maintenance and administrative procedures between RAFO and the IAF.” The reasons for this joint exercise, however, are far more complex that simply answering questions to do with military logistics.

It comes as no surprise to see India’s military conducting such exercises with a county on the Arabian Peninsula. In recent years India has signed numerous military agreements with Oman, the UAE and Qatar. Most of these refer to arms sales, military cooperation and various innocuous notions of ‘exchanges of information’. However, Qatar and Oman have ‘harder’ agreements whereby India has pledged to militarily come to Qatar’s assistance ‘if and when requested’ and Defence News reports that last year India and Oman discusses stationing Indian troops in Oman.

India is, therefore, going to considerable lengths to involve itself in security related affairs of the Arabian Peninsula. Aside from a deep historical intertwining of India and the proto-states of the Arabian Peninsula, today there are two primary reasons for India’s involvement.

Firstly, the Gulf is home to over 5 million Indian expatriates. They represent almost 50% of India’s total expatriate ‘workforce’ spread across the world that sent back to India, according to the World Bank, an estimated $52bn in remittances in 2008. This amounts to approximately 4.3% of India’s 2008 GDP and is, therefore, crucial. Even though India’s expatriates in the Gulf are mostly employed in low skilled and low paid jobs they are nevertheless thought to be responsible for roughly one fifth of India’s total remittances i.e. roughly $10.4bn or 0.8% of India’s GDP.

Secondly, the Gulf is – of course – the world’s energy hub. India, with ever greater energy demands, must seek more and more of its energy requirements from the Gulf in the decades to come.

India’s consumption of Gas mirrors this oil consumption graph. Statistics taken from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

For India, having close relations with Gulf States to the degree that in some cases they even seek a stake in the state’s security, can only increase their energy security. This is done by not only fostering better, closer relations with frequent delegation visits, arms sales and other such activities, but if India shows that they are willing to ‘stick their neck out’ and actually guarantee military aid and support if requested, this clearly deepens their relations. It would, therefore, be only reasonable to expect the Gulf States in question to respond in kind with guarantees of oil and/or gas supplies.

 

 

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