Reality Check for India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor midst Israel-Hamas Conflict

  • November 23, 2023
  • News

The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has created a setback to the initiative to build a new trade route from India through the Middle East to Europe (IMEC). The corridor was announced at the G20 Summit held in India in September 2023 and was appreciated as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The corridor, when ready, will be a network linking India to UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to Israel’s Haifa port on the Mediterranean Sea, from where the shipment can be easily moved to Europe, bypassing the Suez Canal. However, now with the war on, the region has been plunged into instability.

Chintamani Mahapatra, founder of the Kalinga Institute of Indo-Pacific Studies in New Delhi stated that if the war is spread to wider regions, then it would be a reality check for IMEC. The whole area will be lost if the war continues as the project region passes through some of the most vulnerable regions of the Middle East. This war is a wake-up call to manage the scale of challenges of IMEC. He added that when the project was announced it was presumed that there would be peace and stability in the region but now with war raging, the future is uncertain.
The IMEC, a Western-backed corridor was not only just a trade route, but it has geopolitical motives, as it was seen as an alternative to China’s BRI, but it is believed that it can be reconstituted down the road.

India is looking ahead to be a part of the trade corridor and as the economy is growing, it would be one of the major beneficiaries of the proposed route. Analysts describe the war as a short-term glitch and will be sorted out soon. As the current struggle unfolds, New Delhi has reached out to both Israel and the Palestinians.

Even if New Delhi can strike a balance in its ties with Arab countries and Israel, the project’s future hinges on how relations will shape up among the countries in the region. Mohapatra says that IMEC will be worked on, not buried. But, right now, there is no possibility of coordination between the countries involved.