Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be participating in a quadrilateral summit - the so-called I2U2 Summit, along with Israel PM Yair Lapid, UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and US President Joseph R. Biden.
The US administration has named the new grouping as “I2U2” — “I” for India and Israel and “U” for the US and UAE.
The first Leaders’ Summit of I2U2 will be held virtually on 14 July 2022. The group has been informally referred to as the 'West Asia Quad', drawing parallels with the Quad grouping in the Indo-Pacific, which includes India, the US, Japan and Australia.
What is I2U2?
Following the Abraham Accords between Israel and the UAE, I2U2 was founded in October 2021 to address marine security, infrastructure, and transportation challenges in the region.
It was known as the ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’ at the time. At that time, UAE had referred to the new grouping as the ‘West Asian Quad’.
As geopolitical shifts unfold across the Western Indian Ocean (WIO), the coming together of a new grouping of countries with similar interests is likely to facilitate greater engagement with the region.
The WIO, the region lying between India, the Suez Canal and South Africa, is strategically critical as it contains the key maritime chokepoints of the Bab-el-Mandeb and the Suez Canal.
In 2018, nearly 6.2 million barrels of oil flowed through the Hormuz every day towards Asia and Europe. Sea lanes passing through the region are a critical node in the global energy network as well as economic security dynamics.
The presence of interconnected threats such as maritime piracy, illegal smuggling of drugs and weapons, and terrorism heightens the strategic importance of the region. Regional states host military bases of major powers including China, Russia, Japan and France, making it an arena of major power contestation.
On account of their naval presence and strategic engagement, India and the US are important players in the WIO. In fact, the WIO is considered as an ‘area of interest’ for the Indian Navy. In view of the growing Chinese presence in the region, India and the US are boosting their partnership in the WIO.
The interests and capabilities of all four countries are complementary to each other. Therefore, the ‘new’ Quad is likely to facilitate greater engagement with the region and maximise their strategic options.