India and the Middle East: energy at the heart of new strategic partnerships

India crude oil and LNG imports by country
Middle Eastern countries provide the bulk of India’s oil and gas, and New Delhi hopes new strategic partnership deals will ensure long-term energy security (source: macpixxel for GIS)
  • India has concluded “strategic partnership” deals with several Middle Eastern states
  • Aside from the oil and gas trade, India shares few common interests with these countries
  • Tensions over prices could scupper these relationships

The world’s increasing multipolarity and fundamental changes in global energy markets are pushing countries to forge new alliances. A prime example is the changing relationships between India and countries in the Middle East, which are being elevated from ties based on commercial interests to “strategic partnerships.” The question is to what extent these new partnerships involve substantial change, or whether they are merely an exercise in rebranding, with energy continuing to define – and limit – the relationships.

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