Dr. Vrushal T. Ghoble currently serves as an Assistant Professor within the Centre for West Asian Studies (CWAS), situated in the School of International Studies (SIS) at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. His scholarly credentials include M.Phil and Ph.D degrees from CWAS/SIS.
His extensive research interests encompass the socio-political dynamics of the Middle East (West Asia), the intricate relationship between Asia and the Middle East, issues related to Energy Security and International Relations, the impact and implications of Oil and Gas affairs on the environment, Corporate Social Responsibility, Maritime energy security, as well as the workings of Oil Multinationals. His most recent studies delve into the "Geopolitics of the Lebanese Crisis: Economic and Energy Perspectives," and the multifaceted Saudi Arabia–Iran contention, focusing particularly on the influence of foreign actors.
In recent years, alterations in the power dynamics of major international actors - particularly the retraction of the United States' Middle East strategy - have engendered a trend towards de-escalation in regional inter-country relations. Simultaneously, foreign influence in Arab regions has become increasingly diversified and balanced, bolstering the strategic autonomy of these regions. The détente between Saudi Arabia and Iran in 2023 has likely ignited a "wave of relaxation" within Arab territories, signifying the Arab world's pursuit of a renewed path towards rejuvenation. However, challenges persist in the form of pan-Islamism proliferation, the exacerbation of geopolitical and economic tensions, and the intricacies of managing relations with external entities.To elucidate these matters, our Center has conducted an exclusive interview with Dr. Vrushal T. Ghoble, seeking his insights into the evolution of the Arab world. We endeavored to discern his perspectives on whether the role of pan-Arab ideologies is dwindling in the Arab region, the impacts of World War II on the Arab world, and the current role of foreign actors within the Arab landscape.
The Quest Revival In the Arab World
Pan-Arabism as a movement appraised the Arab identity. The movement that swept across the region related to its social, cultural, political and economic unification of the Arab states. In a way, it meant change the totalitarianism in favour of democratic ideals. Pan-Arab ideals are significant in bringing the Arab population closer. The movement that emerged in the 19th century has been a significant event in history of the Middle East; however, rising fundamentalism and extremism added with protests and uprisings in the region marked the gradual decline of the aspirations of a peaceful region. It generated a vaccine for non-state actors like ISIS to grow. Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser a pioneer of Pan-Arabism followed by Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi and Hafeez al-Assad, all adhered to Pan Arabism. None could actually achieve success in becoming a leader of the movement, after Nasser. Eventually, what we are witnessing is the rise of extremism throughout the region through ideologies that will promote certain goals. However, in a larger sense, we cannot say that the vision of a common Arab identity is lost. There is a feeling of a common brotherhood vision that can be seen in the discussion and debates around Arab NATO, which may also include Israel. And expected to build good ties between Israel and its Arab neighbours. Even if this vision is far sighted and has been put forth many times earlier, the discussion around the Arab military alliance continues.
The conclusion of the WW II brought the two superpower’s USSR and US face to face as competitors and engaged in Cold War resulting in nuclear race. Some of the countries in the Middle East got independent from their colonizers. The Arab world economies were attracted to the western weapons, especially from Great Britain and US. The end of WW II however, led to the decline of the British and growth of US influence in the Arab world. Following which, Saudi Arabia’s rise in the Arab world further evolved and its closeness to the US grew. The run for Middle Eastern oil had begun and was more evident as US interest in the region rose. The world also saw the oil embargo of 1973-74 which created a global oil crisis where global prices of oil rose, which took the Western world hostage. Since then, the geopolitics of the region took a drastic turn and geo-economic competition rose.
There are many countries which are involved in the region today and nearly all of them are siding with or supporting one group or the other. As the region is experiencing a US partial withdrawal, the support and involvement of other countries is rising. Countries like Russia and China are at the forefront in supporting the regional actors, especially with aid, and infrastructure building. Recently, a deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran was brokered by China with an expected vision of ensuring peace between the two. India also plays an important role in the Middle East. The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is multi-mode transport project for moving freight among India, Iran, Central Asian states, Russia, and Afghanistan. This project is a major initiative that will help the region and enhance engagement between the India and the Middle East. From a holistic perspective, China’s investment in the region is also very substantial, which attracts the regional actors. From the region’s perspective, the popularity of the US is slowly fading away as it wants to retreat, which eventually means that the region should fend for itself. Therefore, in such a scenario the region looks up to the other actors who are reliable and are willing to assist the region through chaos and conflicts.
Contact: Yi Songqi
Interview: Jiang Peilei
Editor: Duan nengyan