While the balance of power in the world is shifting towards Europe at the point of “struggling with Russia” and towards the Pacific in order to “stop the rise of China”, a new alliance is emerging in Western Asia that will disrupt these balances. The leaders of the United States (USA), Israel, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India announced in a joint statement on 14 July 2022 that they will cooperate in many areas from economy to security, from transportation to space cooperation, from clean energy to health and food security. “I2U2”, which is the abbreviation of the English names of the four countries mentioned, is also called “West Asian QUAD” or “QUAD 2.0” because it was established as a result of the initiatives of the USA and India is also included in it.
The I2U2 Alliance is mainly aimed at “promoting joint investments” in six mutually determined areas such as water, energy, transport, space, health and food security. Apart from this, the basis of the alliance is based on the normalization agreement signed between Israel and the UAE in 2020. This agreement was described as the “Abraham Agreement” by the then US President Donald Trump, as it represented the “Israeli-Arab peace”. With the also inclusion of India in this axis, it began to be called the “Indo-Abraham Alliance”.Because in the declaration, it was stated that support was given to the Abraham Agreements with Israel and other peace and normalization arrangements. A call was made to explore economic opportunities, including the development of economic cooperation in West and South Asia, and the promotion of sustainable investment, in particular among I2U2 partners.
The most important step of this union is the trade and economy corridors. After Israel normalized relations with the Gulf Countries with the support of Trump, the construction of a new economic corridor stretching from Europe to India came to the fore. India, Israel and UAE formed the main pillar of this corridor. This project, also known as the “Arab-Med Corridor” or the “Indo-Arabic-Mediterranean Corridor”, has opened the door to cooperation between the four countries in various fields from clean energy to food security.
In this meeting, I2U2 leaders announced that they agreed on two main areas: food security and clean energy. First, it has been agreed that the UAE will invest $2 billion to develop a series of integrated food parks across India that will include state-of-the-art climate control. The US and Israeli private sectors were also invited to contribute to this project. These investments are intended to help maximize crop yields and in turn help overcome food insecurity in West and South Asia. Second, the I2U2 group has decided to develop a hybrid renewable energy project with a capacity of 300 megawatt (MW) in the Indian state of Gujarat. It is stated that the USA has started a feasibility study for the 330 million dollar project and UAE-based companies are ready to serve as investment partners. Through such projects, it is aimed to make India an alternative global center in the renewable energy sector.
Finally, it was emphasized in the statement that these decisions taken to encourage mutual investments are only the first steps of a long-term strategic partnership between I2U2 countries. Analysts consider this alliance as part of US efforts to contain China’s influence in West and South Asia. In this way, it is estimated that Washington can expand its allies in the region and create a new axis in Western Asia against China. The initiative is considered a QUAD-like or supporting project established in response to the “growing Chinese influence” in the Pacific. According to Regional Researcher Kevjn Lim, the USA is trying to integrate two strategic regions, namely Indo-Pacific and West Asia, with the formation of “I2U2”.
India considers this alliance rather as an economic-commercial gain. The USA, on the other hand, considers this formation as a strategic platform that can serve to surround China in terms of politics and security in its immediate vicinity.
Reading the I2U2 Alliance from a Global Perspective
It is seen that a new “Cold War” and therefore polarization process is taking place between Euro-Atlantic powers (West) and Eurasian-Pacific (Eastern) powers in the world. In such a process, it is estimated that the global balance of power will change with the emergence of a new alliance in West Asia. It is interpreted that the I2U2 Alliance, led by the USA, can change the balance in favor of the West. Israel’s entry into the normalization process with the Gulf Countries will not cause any damage to the Eastern axis, which is mainly headed by Russia, India and China. On the contrary, the relations of the eastern front with Israel have always been warm-moderate. Israel is getting closer to the Eurasian-Pacific axis, especially through relations with Russia and India.
India, which wants to reach Europe by improving its economic and political relations with Israel, wishes to use Tel Aviv as a bridge in this context. The fact that New Delhi has developed ties with both Tel Aviv and Moscow means that, if we think about it geopolitically, the Indo-Pacific builds a bridge between the West and the East. To put it more clearly, while establishing relations with the USA and Israel, India changes the balance of power in favor of the West, it can strengthen the Eastern axis by getting closer to Russia and China.
In the last year, the USA has been trying to change the balance of power in favor of the West, especially with the platforms and partnerships it has established or pioneered in the Indo-Pacific. This is seen as a challenge to the Eastern axis rising over the Eurasian-Pacific led by Russia and China. Acting with a vision of multipolarity, India takes part in formations such as “QUAD” and “I2U2” under the leadership of the USA, as well as constitutes the basic pillar of platforms such as BRICS and SCO, led by Russia and China. Therefore, the fact that India is taking part in the”I2U2″ Alliance does not indicate a radical change in the global balance of power. However, the regional repercussions of this may be very different.
Regional Impacts of the I2U2 Alliance
India’s rapprochement with the US and Israel may also jeopardize its relations with actors in West and South Asia. This sensitive geopolitical rivalry may lead to ruptures in a geography starting from Iran to Pakistan and the Gulf Countries. First of all, India’s participation in the I2U2 Alliance may damage its relations with Iran. Because, in order to balance Pakistan, India turned to cooperation with its neighbor Iran. Iran, on the other hand, was warmly looking at rapprochement with India as a counterbalance element due to Pakistan’s deep-rooted relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Even if India was included in the US-led QUAD in 2017, this formation in the Indo-Pacific would not be considered a clear threat to Iran. However, with China’s emphasis on Iran in the context of the Belt-Road Project and the development of Beijing-Tehran relations in recent years, India has started to turn to alternative collaborations in the geopolitics of the region. As a result of the Iran-China rapprochement, India started to develop its relations with the Gulf Countries, especially the UAE, and Israel. As a result of this, India has also started to work on the Gulf-Israel-Mediterranean route as an alternative to the Iran-Russia route in the corridors extending to the West.
The point that draws attention here is that while Pakistan develops warm relations with the Gulf States, these countries do not participate in the normalization process with Israel. In addition, due to its tense relations with India, Pakistan is positioned against the I2U2 Alliance. Therefore, the fact that India sided with Israel in Western Asia may pave the way for the rapprochement of Iran and Pakistan, which are outside of this alliance. The impact of these geopolitical ruptures can extend to Afghanistan and Central Asia in the long run. If we characterize the “I2U2” Alliance as a new QUAD, India can play an “equation breaker” or “balance provider” role in this alliance as well.
 “Joint Statement of the Leaders of India, Israel, United Arab Emirates, and the United States (I2U2)”, White House, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/07/14/joint-statement-of-the-leaders-of-india-israel-united-arab-emirates-and-the-united-states-i2u2/, (Date of Accession: 16.07.2022).
 “With the world in ‘turmoil’, a new ‘Quad’ comes into place”, Aljazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2022/7/14/with-the-world-in-turmoil-a-new-quad-comes-into-place, (Date of Accession: 16.07.2022).
 “An Indo-Abrahamic alliance on the rise: How India, Israel, and the UAE are creating a new transregional order”, MEİ, https://www.mei.edu/publications/indo-abrahamic-alliance-rise-how-india-israel-and-uae-are-creating-new-transregional, (Date of Accession: 16.07.2022).
 “An India-Europe Trade Corridor? The geoeconomics dimension of an emerging West Asia Quad”, Orfonline, https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/an-india-europe-trade-corridor/, (Date of Accession: 16.07.2022).
 “What is the I2U2?”, NY Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/14/world/middleeast/i2u2-india-israel-uae-us.html, (Date of Accession: 16.07.2022).