Skip to main content

In Saudi, US embraces a West Asia architecture with India, UAE

New relationships across the continent may promote both economic development and security.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman prior to a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on February 20, 2019. - Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a warm welcome in India on February 20, with Riyadh eager to demonstrate it is not an international pariah after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October. (Photo by MONEY SHARMA / AFP) (Photo credit should read MONEY SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images)

United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan flew to Saudi Arabia on May 7 to meet with Saudi Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, UAE National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and National Security Advisor of India Ajit Doval. 

Their goal was to further connect the Middle East region with India and the world, building on strong Saudi-India ties as well as on the I2U2 format

Working with Delhi is a new US approach to the Middle East, with the goal of creating strategic synergies around the Eurasian rim, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indo-Pacific. 

The Middle East and South Asia as West Asia  

Over the past years, the sequence of events and changing alliances have made a strong case for redefining the Middle East and South Asia as West Asia — as the convergence between the two regions became clearer, based on the synergies between their economies, their shared maritime space, their centrality to Eurasian connectivity, civilizational outlook, and shared history. 

The current reality supports a framework for the ongoing, unprecedented alignment between India, Israel, and the Sunni Arab states (UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt) to balance the rising Eurasian powers of the region and prepare a US shift towards the Indo-Pacific. Two major obstacles were the Arab-Israeli conflict and the India-Pakistan conflict. As the world is drifting towards a multipolar system, pragmatism is prevailing and legacy relationships with no strategic purpose are running out of time — paving the way for the Abraham Accords in 2020 and more interest-based relations between India and Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt.   

I2U2 is only the beginning  

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.