October 8, 2013


Israel and India, a Match Made in the U.S., Develop Their Own Military Romance : How last month's attacks in Nairobi, a reminder of the Mumbai siege, may bring them even closer together (Mark Bergen, October 8, 2013, Tablet)

Last year, Israel topped the list of arms suppliers to India--just as India officially became the globe's largest arms importer. And it's not just missiles and drones: India has increasingly leaned on Tel Aviv for high-tech warfare, scooping up the Phalcon airborne radar and advanced electronic surveillance systems along with equipment to retrofit now-rickety Soviet-era weaponry. In New Delhi, Israel is seen not just as a ready and competent supplier, but as a kindred nation. "India and Israel both imagine themselves as democracies under siege," said Bhairav Acharya, a legal analyst with the Centre for Internet and Society, a Bangalore think tank. "Relationships are extremely one-sided and based almost solely on combat weapons."

For India, the Shabab terrorist attack in Nairobi last month struck a nerve. It was eerily reminiscent of the siege by a militant group from Pakistan in Mumbai, five years ago, in which more than 160 people were killed, including the local Chabad rabbi and his wife. Since then, the Indian government has grown closer to Israel, which was one of the first nations to come to its aid in 2008. Their courtship began as a multilateral relationship, with the United States acting as partner and matchmaker. But the road between Jerusalem and Delhi no longer passes through Washington. "In fact, if the U.S. were to take an active interest, it would complicate this relationship," said Harsh V. Pant, a defense studies lecturer at King's College, London.

As India continues to ramp up its military might, it looks set to grow closer still, as Israel seeks to cement its relationship not just with a customer for its defense industries but with a friend among the world's major non-Islamic powers. In November, the two nations are set to hold a seventh round of talks on a bilateral free-trade agreement. If finalized, it's expected to broaden economic exchange beyond government contracts, to private-sector deals in information technology, agriculture, and energy. "The relations between Israel and India are not based on the relations between India and the U.S.," Ohad Horsandi, the Israeli Embassy spokesman in New Delhi, told me. "These are completely independent relations."

Posted by at October 8, 2013 4:40 AM

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