Mohammed bin Salman’s Visit to India: Defence & Security Pacts High on Agenda

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India will be more or less tilted towards enhancing security cooperation. Saudi Arabia and India have also expressed to work closely on defence partnership and military expansion. Mohammed bin Salman earlier signed investment deals worth $20 Billion with Pakistan and in anticipated to sign big deals with New Delhi too.

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India is changing its approach in the Gulf region because of Chinese expansion and decline of American power. India is concerned about security issues such as joint military exercises, intelligence sharing, counterterrorism operations, and terror financing. Hence, the Indian Prime Minister decided to visit Gulf countries to enhance economic and strategic ties.

In 2006, Saudi King Abdullah visited India to boost India and Saudi relationship. During his visit, the two countries inked the “Delhi Declaration” while also condemned terrorism. During Former PM Manmohan Singh visit to Saudi Arabia, “Riyadh Declaration” was signed to focus on enhanced cooperation to fight against terrorism. All these events indicate two countries concern for military expansion.

In April 2016, Modi visited Saudi Arabia to take India and Saudi relationship to the next level. During his visit, the two countries signed agreements to boost economic and security ties.

Both countries are concerned about terrorism and extremism. The Gulf region served as a safer zone for Indian terrorist groups like the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the Indian Mujahideen (IM).

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The Gulf region consists of a large chunk of the migrant population and is often visited by the South Asian Muslims for a business purpose which did not create security threats. But with the arrival of the terrorist organisation, the Gulf countries intelligence agencies have encountered a disturbing trend and began to act on these terrorist outfits.

Currently, Saudi Arabia is controlling terror financing through the world’s strictest financial control system. The rise of the Islamic State has also disturbed Gulf nations politics. Saudi Arabia is trying to implement strict security laws to face future challenges.

The  Saudi government is closely working with India to understand the suspected terror outfits in India. In 2012, Saudi Arabia helped India in the arrest of two terror suspects of which one was involved in the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008. In December 2016, Saudi Arabia identified the promoter of a fake Indian currency note. A suspected terrorist belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba was also arrested by the Indian National Investigation Agency with the help of Saudi Arabia.

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During Indian PM’s visit to Saudi Arabia, both the nations promised to work collectively for their counter-terrorism operations. The two countries also decided to boost the bilateral strategic relations in terms of security and defence cooperation. The two batches of Saudi Military Cadets were trained in Indian Defence Academy. Another major development in security was recorded when direct flights between India and Israel started operating.

The Saudi Prince Crown, Mohammed bin Salman has expressed his views against terrorism and jihadist. “We want to fight terrorism and we want to fight extremism because we need to build stability in the Middle East,” Salman said during his UK visit, last year.

India is shifting its strategy in Saudi Arabia, currently, the focus is on security and counterterrorism acts rather than mere energy based partnership. With the growth of terrorist activities, India and Saudi Arabia are trying to utilize their potentials in weakening terrorism.

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