The Middle East Crisis through an Asian Prism

On November 27, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion on the Asian vision of the Middle East crisis. Moderator Oleg Barabanov, programme director of the Valdai Club, noted that since the Middle East is part of Asia as a larger region, the political, economic and humanitarian consequences of the Middle East conflict cannot but affect all Asian countries.

Rakesh Bhadauria, Major General (ret.), Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies and Modelling of the Joint Institute of Defence Studies of India (New Delhi), called the crisis in the Middle East a legacy of colonial times. Describing India's position, he noted that it has good relations with both Israel and Palestine, but that India condemns harm to civilians on both sides and attaches importance primarily to human suffering as a result of the conflict. According to him, it is now important to prevent the expansion of the confrontation, because if it grows, then the entire Global South will be involved and, in addition, energy security will be at risk. It is necessary to implement a solution based on the two-state principle, Bhadauria noted, adding that the BRICS+ forum could help in initiating the truce.

Rahakundini Bakrie Connie, Lecturer at Jenderal Achmad Yani University in Indonesia, called for a search for a political solution within the framework of the UN. She emphasized that Indonesia, as both a Muslim country and a trading partner of Israel, favours a peace process with the active participation of Russia. In her opinion, in order to establish peace in the Middle East, it would be useful to return to the idea of a Middle East Quartet consisting of the European Union, the UN, the United States and Russia, in order to provide mediation efforts. However, the confrontation between Russia and the Western countries makes this unlikely.

John Gong, Professor, Vice President of Research and Strategy at the University of International Business and Economics – Israel (UIBE – Israel), briefly outlined the situation around the Gaza Strip and the main trends in Israeli politics at the moment, noting that the consequences of what is happening will have a long-term impact on the world in the future. Speaking about China's position, he pointed out that it is gradually changing and becoming more balanced. At first, Beijing did not directly condemn Hamas, but later it put forward a draft resolution that contained a condemnation. Nevertheless, Israel considers the Chinese position to be rather pro-Palestinian, the analyst admitted, adding that, in his opinion, China seeks to maintain neutrality and achieve a truce between the parties, advocating the two-state principle.

Raza Muhammad, President of the Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad, presented the Pakistani perspective on the issue. He said Pakistan has always supported the Palestinian people and called Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip unacceptable, underscoring that what is happening there is a full-blown humanitarian disaster. Discussing possible solutions to the situation, he noted that all wars one way or another end in peace and the parties will sooner or later be forced to move on to negotiations, but the question is when this will happen. In his opinion, ultimately everything depends on the position of two countries – the United States and Israel. Until they decide to end this conflict, there is nothing the world can do.