India’s Gulf Diplomacy

India’s softly-softly approach pays dividends.

The Indian Navy’s Arabian Gulf Diplomacy – Analysis

By Abhijit Singh

The steady evolution of Indian Ocean diplomacy in recent years has been a defining feature of the country’s foreign policy transformation. Since 2007, when it codified the concept of maritime diplomacy in the military maritime strategy document, the Indian Navy (IN) has not only expanded its maritime engagement with regional navies but has also built “bridges of friendship” through regular ship visits to countries along the Indian Ocean rim. The Navy’s diplomatic turn has been especially noteworthy in the expansion of naval cooperation with Arab Gulf states, offering critical support to India’s foreign policy initiatives in the Middle East.

Earlier this month, four Indian Naval Ships – Trishul, Tabar, Deepak and Delhi – departed on a month long deployment to the Arabian Gulf. After a three-day stopover at Dubai (UAE) the ships branched out into two groups. INS Delhi and INS Trishul proceeded to Al-Jubail (Saudi Arabia) and Doha (Qatar) where they engaged in coordinated drills with host navies. Meanwhile, INS Tabar and INS Deepak reached Doha after a brief visit to Kuwait, whereupon the combined contingent of four ships proceeded to Muscat for a final stop-over before returning to Mumbai.

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