West Asia & North Africa Digest by Ambassador Mahesh Sachdev | February 2024

IA) Political Developments: Pan-Regional and Global Issues

WANA Regional Security and Terrorism

Despite several strenuous efforts to broker a “humanitarian pause” at the UN and by the United States and other mediators, there was no let-up in fighting in Gaza during the month under review. Israel Defence Force (IDF) persisted with its “Operation Iron Swords” (OIS) aimed at decimation of Hamas militia and freeing the over 100 remaining Israeli hostages, but these objectives remained elusive during the month. According to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health, by Jan 31 the OIS, which began on Oct 8, had caused 26,900 deaths in Gaza (including at least 10,000 children) and 65,636 injured. At least 8,000 others were missing, mostly buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings. In occupied West Bank the corresponding numbers were 370 dead and 4570 injured. Israel suffered 1139 deaths and 8,730 injured, most of the causalities occurring on Oct 7). The number of Israeli soldiers killed since Oct 7 rose to 560 by January end, of which 223 died in Gaza since the start of the Israeli ground operations on Oct 27. On Jan 23, IDF lost 24 soldiers, most in a single day so far in OIS. Citing satellite imagery, BBC claimed on Jan 30 that at least half of the buildings across the Gaza Strip had been destroyed since October 7.

Much of the military action during January centred around southern Gaza in general and Khan Younis in particular as the IDF pressed on with their assault launched on Dec 5. They were met with stiff resistance by the Hamas fighters. On Jan 18, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed, “Up until now sixteen or seventeen out of twenty-four of Hamas’ fighting regiments have been destroyed.” However, in an apparent act of defiance despite being under IDF siege, on Jan 29 Hamas managed to lob 15 rockets at Tel Aviv and nearby cities, displaying long-range firepower after weeks of relative quiet. Israel hinted at planning an assault on Rafah, the last big city close to the Egyptian border, raising serious humanitarian concerns due to the large presence of internally displaced persons there.

On the diplomatic front, there was more heat than light during the month as the attempts at a “tactical pause” in fighting and a long-term “two-state solution” were thwarted, mostly due to Israeli rebuff. The US continued to press for both and secretary of state Anthony Blinken said on Jan 11 that a Palestinian state could “stabilise the region and isolate Iran.” On Jan 21, PM Netanyahu rejected the reported Hamas condition of a long-term ceasefire, withdrawal of IDF from Gaza, leaving Hamas in power in Gaza and release of Palestinian prisoners as precursors for the release of the Israeli hostages. On Jan 27, he stepped up public pressure on Qatar to bring about the release of Gaza hostages on Saturday, saying Doha should apply the leverage it has as a host and funder of the Hamas militants. A three-phase plan involving a ceasefire, humanitarian supplies to Gazans and exchange of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners put together by intelligence heads from Israel, the US, Egypt and Qatar in Paris on Jan 27 was also scuttled by Israeli leadership.

Despite Israeli pre-occupations with Hamas and Hezbollah, it persisted with an iron-fist policy in the Occupied West Bank (OWB). On Jan 30, Israeli commandos disguised as medical workers and Muslim women burst into Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin in the occupied West Bank and killed three Palestinian militants. On Jan 30, the total number of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails was put at over 8,000 – having risen sharply since Oct 7, despite the release of some of them under terms of a Gaza Hostage deal in November.  Most of the detainees were from the OWB.

For details on the Israel-Hezbollah tensions: Please see the para on Lebanon.

For the Houthi missile attacks on Israel and the Red Sea area: Please see the para onYemen.


WANA and Multilateral Diplomacy:

On Jan 10, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2722 (2024) on “attacks by Houthis on merchant and commercial vessels” by a vote of 11 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (Algeria, China, Mozambique, Russian Federation). The resolution demanded that the Houthis immediately cease all attacks on merchant and commercial vessels and took note of the right of member states, under international law, to defend their vessels from attacks, including those that undermine navigational rights and freedoms. It also condemned the provision of materiel to the Houthis in violation of resolution 2216 (2015) and urged caution and restraint to avoid further escalation of the situation in the Red Sea and the broader region.  Additionally, the Council encouraged enhanced diplomatic efforts by all parties to this end, including continued support for dialogue and Yemen’s peace process.

On Jan 26, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered its interim ruling on South Africa’s reference alleging Israel was committing a “genocide” in Gaza in violation of the International Genocide Convention of 1948. The ruling comprised of the following salient features:

  • The court ordered Israel to refrain from “any acts that could fall under the Genocide Convention and to ensure its troops commit no genocidal acts in Gaza.”
  • The court held: “At least some of the acts and omissions alleged by South Africa to have been committed by Israel in Gaza appear to be capable of falling within the provisions of the (Genocide) Convention,”
  • It required Israel to prevent and punish any public incitements to commit genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and to preserve evidence related to any allegations of genocide there.
  • Israel must also take measures to improve the humanitarian situation for Palestinian civilians in the enclave.
  • The court did not demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
  • The court also said it was “gravely concerned” about the fate of hostages held in Gaza and called on Hamas and other armed groups to immediately release them without conditions.

The international community reacted to ICJ’s interim ruling along the national lines. Israeli PM Netanyahu, for instance, called the ruling “outrageous” while the PA foreign minister called it “in favour of humanity and international law.”

On Jan 18 Mexico and Chile made a joint referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over possible crimes over “an escalation of violence” after several months of war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

On Jan 29, Reuters published details from an Israeli intelligence dossier alleging that some 190 employees of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) responsible for humanitarian work in occupied Palestinian territories doubled up as Hamas or Palestine Islamic Jihad militants. The Israeli document specifically listed 12 such people, who allegedly participated in the October 7 attack. The allegation caused an international furore. Although UNRWA said that it acted swiftly to fire the staff after being alerted of Israeli evidence that they participated in the Oct. 7 attacks, several Western donors to the UN body suspended all assistance to it. These included the US, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Netherlands, Britain, Italy, Australia and Finland who collectively pledged  $667 mn of the total $1.17 bn pledges to the UNRWA in 2022.  UNRWA believed the cuts to its funding now could jeopardise its entire mission and dramatically worsen an already catastrophic humanitarian emergency in Gaza. On Jan 31, Israeli PM Netanyahu said that UNRWA must be shut down. On Jan 31, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described UNRWA as “the backbone of all humanitarian response in Gaza” and appealed to all countries to “guarantee the continuity of UNRWA’s life-saving work”. Human Rights Watch, a US-based NGO, also made a similar appeal on Jan 29. UNRWA directly employs 30,000 Palestinians, serving the civic and humanitarian needs of 5.9 mn descendants of those refugees, in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and in vast camps in neighbouring Arab countries. In Gaza, it employs 13,000 people, running the enclave’s schools, its primary healthcare clinics and other social services.

A statement by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the Security Council on Jan 23 asserted, “Nothing can justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.” He also denounced Israel’s opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state. Earlier on Jan 18, Israeli PM Netanyahu publicly rejected the push, spearheaded by the US, for a Palestinian state after the Gaza conflict. (Further Reading: “Israel-Palestinian conflict: what is the two-state solution and what are the obstacles?” Reuters, Jan 26.)

In a statement on Jan 27, the UNCTAD estimated that the weekly transits going through the Suez Canal had decreased by 42% over the last two months.

After months of negotiations, France, Qatar Egypt implemented a humanitarian deal on Jan 17 under which Hamas would allow three months of essential medicines to 45 of the Israeli hostages in its custody. In return, Israel would allow entry of a consignment of medicines for besieged Gazan civilians.

On Jan 6, Al-Jazeera reported that Rwanda, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had categorically denied engaging in any negotiations with Israel regarding the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza to their respective countries.

WANA and the United States:

In a drone attack on Tower-22, a US military base near Tanaf at the trijunction of the land borders of Jordan, Syria and Iraq, on Jan 28 three US soldiers were killed and injured some 40 others. While no one took responsibility for the attack which resulted in the first combat deaths among the US servicemen since Oct 7, pro-Iranian militias were widely suspected. On Jan 29 the US Defense Secretary vowed the U.S. would take “all necessary actions” to defend its troops after a deadly drone attack in Jordan by Iran-backed militants, even as the Biden administration stressed it was not seeking a war with Iran. The US retaliation came on Feb 2 as airstrikes on more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and the militias it backs. The US is estimated to have nearly 30,000 troops deployed in the WANA region. On Jan 30, Kataib Hezbollah, among the most powerful pro-Iran militia in Iraq on Tuesday announced it was stopping all attacks on U.S. forces, citing an unwillingness to embarrass the Iraqi government and making rare public note of disagreements with Iran and its so-called “Axis of Resistance”. (Further Reading: “How an Iranian ally in Iraq was made to stand down, Reuters, Jan 31.)

On Jan 4, the US secretary of state Anthony Blinken began his fourth tour to the WANA region on Oct 7 in which he visited Israel, Jordan, PA, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey. The visit did not lead to any breakthrough on the ground although Blinken claimed that countries in the region were interested in pursuing normalization of relations with Israel but that it would require a clear pathway toward a Palestinian state.

On Jan 28, the White House denied the NBC News report that the US was discussing slowing the weapon sales to Israel as leverage to convince the Israeli government to scale back its military assault in Gaza. A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said that there was no change in its Israel policy. However, the US media reported that President Biden spoke with Israeli PM Netanyahu on Jan 19, after a gap of over a month – indicating bilateral tensions over the conduct of the Gaza conflict. The sharp public differences between the two leaders on the two-state solution after the end of the Gaza conflict emerged during the month under review: with Biden for it and Netanyahu ruling it out.

Among the US military moves in the WANA region, during the month under review were the departure of the aircraft carrier Gerald Ford from the East Mediterranean on Jan 1, the seizure of Iranian weapons on a Dhow bound for Houthis in the Arabian Sea on Jan 11 and several US air and missile strikes in Syria, Iraq and Yemen (details elsewhere in this Digest under respective country heads),

WANA and China:

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi visited Cairo on Jan 13-14 and was received by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. In a joint statement issued after the visit Egypt and China were closely following developments in the Red Sea, focusing on the priority of ensuring the safety and security of navigation. It also expressed concern over the expansion of the conflict in the region, emphasizing the importance of efforts to stop attacks on Gaza. Wang Yi also declared that China favoured a larger, more authoritative Israeli-Palestinian peace conference and a timetable for implementing a two-state solution. (Further Reading: “Explainer: Houthi attacks expose China’s commercial stakes in Red Sea”, Reuters, Jan 15.)

A Reuters report on Jan 26 cited unnamed Iranian sources as saying that Chinese officials have asked their Iranian counterparts to help rein in attacks on ships in the Red Sea by the Iran-backed Houthis or risk harming business relations with Beijing.

Four WANA Countries to Join BRICS:

Following BRICS Group’s expansion last month, four WANA countries, viz. Saudi Arabia, Iran UAE and Egypt were expected to join the group from January 1 2024.  Entry of three major oil producers (Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran) and two major investors (Saudi Arabia & the UAE) is expected to make the group economically dominant while entry of four WANA and Muslim countries may anchor it to their well-known geopolitical positions on the regional issues.

IB) Political Developments


In a landmark judgement on Jan 1 Israel’s Supreme Court struck down a highly disputed law passed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government last year that rolled back some of the high court’s power and sparked months of nationwide protests. “The court held that the amendment causes severe and unprecedented harm to the core characteristics of Israel as a democratic state.” Though the right-wing members of the ruling coalition criticised the court verdict, the government did not propose any plan to reintroduce the disputed legislation that caused months of popular protests in Israel. It was a serious setback to Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and could impact the ongoing legal investigation against him on three charges of corruption. An Israeli opinion poll published on Jan 2 disclosed that only 15% of those polled wanted him to continue as prime minister after the Gaza war.

Bank of Israel made its first rate cut since 2020 on Jan 1 when it lowered the short-term interest rate by 25 bps to 4.50%. The bank cited that defence and civilian costs of the war were expected to reach 210 bn shekels ($58 bn) adding that while falling inflation and a recovery in financial markets allowed for the start of rate cuts, the easing cycle would take time due to the war.

On Jan 1, Israeli media quoted the director general of the construction and housing ministry as saying that Israel was planning to bring in around 70,000 foreign workers from China, India and elsewhere to boost its construction sector, which was largely frozen since Oct 7 attacks the entry of the Palestinian workers from West Bank and Gaza into Israel was banned.

In its testimony at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Jan 12 Israel’s team rejected as false and “grossly distorted” accusations brought by South Africa at the U.N.’s top court that its military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide campaign against Palestinians. Arguing that it respected international law and had a right to defend itself and was fighting Hamas, not the Palestinian population, Israel called on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to dismiss the case as groundless and reject South Africa’s request to order it to halt the offensive. Israel rejected the accusations, saying it respected international law and had a right to defend itself. Israel rejected the accusations. The ICJ’s decisions are final and without appeal, but the court has no way to enforce them, except through the UN Security Council where the US could veto such an enabling resolution.

On the eve of three months of the Hamas attack, Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant’ made public his plan for “the day after” for Gaza. According to a BBC report it consisted of the following basic tenets:

  • Israel will “reserve its operational freedom of action” throughout the Gaza Strip, and make sure that no one poses a threat to Israel.
  • Israel’s rigid control over the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip would continue.
  • Israel, Egypt and the United States would work together on ways to secure the porous border between Egypt and Gaza.
  • A “multinational task force” comprising of the US, plus European and Arab governments would be responsible for “the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip”.
  • “The entity controlling the territory,” it says, “will build on the capabilities of the existing administrative mechanism (civil committees) in Gaza – local non-hostile actors.” Employing local committees composed of Gaza notables would also have the effect of politically separating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. All appointments to local committees would be approved by Israel.
  • There’s no role for either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.

(Further Reading: “Israel-Gaza war: The huge challenges facing Israel’s ‘day after’ plan” BBC Jan 6.)

At least 12 Israeli ministers address a gathering of Jewish settlers itching to set up settlements in the  Gaza Strip. On Jan 29, Israel’s hard-right Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir urged Jewish settlers to return to Gaza. His call contradicted the official government position iterated by PM Netanyahu that Israel does not intend to return a permanent presence to Gaza once the war with Hamas is over. It drew condemnation from Palestinians who said his words amounted to a call for their forced deportation.


The “controlled escalation” by the two antagonists across the Lebanon-Israel border, viz. Israel Defence Force (IDF) and Hezbollah militia, continued to simmer near its boiling point throughout the month not the least due to Israel’s military proactivity. Israel was presumed to be behind the killing of Wissam Tawil, Hezbollah’s commander in South Lebanon on Jan 8. Earlier on Jan 3, it killed Saleh al-Arouri, one of the top Hamas leaders who headed their office in Lebanon.  Israel was also known to have operated its special forces on cross-border missions in Lebanon. Israeli air and artillery attacks also intensified.  While Hezbollah’s Chief Syed Hassan Nasrallah promised a strong response to Israeli actions, its actions on the ground were limited to the firing of artillery and missile attacks much deeper into Israel.  Both sides blamed each other for escalation and declared that they were disinterested in full-fledged hostilities on the border.

Amidst the military escalation, the US negotiator Amos Hochstein, credited with settling the Israel-Lebanese maritime boundary dispute in 2022, visited Beirut on Jan 11 to propose moves for diffusing the confrontation by the withdrawal of forces from the border On Jan 18 Hezbollah rebuffed his initial ideas for cooling tit-for-tat fighting with neighbouring Israel, such as pulling its fighters further from the border but declared its willingness to U.S. diplomacy to avoid a ruinous war. It reiterated its position that it will fire rockets at Israel until there is a full ceasefire in Gaza. As the US regards Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, Hochstein’s offer was conveyed only to the Lebanese government.


On Jan 17, the US government redesignated the Yemen-based Houthi rebels as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” (SDGT) designation, which hits the Iran-aligned group with harsh sanctions. The declaration, to take effect in 30 days was aimed at cutting off funding and weapons. Explaining the move, the US NSA said, “If the Houthis cease their attacks in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the United States will immediately reevaluate this designation.” On its last day in office, the Trump administration had designated the Houthis as SDGT, but the move was revoked by the Biden Presidency soon thereafter. Its re-imposition came amidst an escalation in Houthi attacks on maritime assets in the southern Red Sea. While the Biden administration’s redesignation provided for a carve-out for humanitarian activities, the concerned agencies warned about its adverse impact on Yemeni civilians who have been coping with the worst humanitarian disaster in the contemporary world.

During the month under review, the Ansar Allah (al-Houthi) militia in northwest Yemen progressively intensified their sporadic attacks on the commercial shipping in the Red Sea and Baab al-Mandeb strait. The threat acquired an autonomous course of its own – away from the Gaza War where Houthis had waded in with the launch of long-range missiles at Eilat port in southern Israel with limited impact. These maritime interdiction activities comprised of attacks by anti-ship missiles, drones and unmanned explosive-laden boats. The most intense of such attacks were on Jan 9, 17-18, 27 and 30. On Jan 31, a Houthi spokesman warned that the militia would keep up attacks on the US and British warships in the Red Sea participating in “aggression” against its country, characterising its actions as in self-defence. Under “Operation Prosperity Guardian”, the US and British navy assets deployed in the region repelled such Houthi attacks shooting down several drones and missiles before these hit the intended targets. They launched pre-emptive air and missile attacks on the Houthi arsenal. Such activities were reported on Jan 9, 10, 18, 19, 22, 27 and 31.

During the escalating war of words, Houthi’s spokesman took care to assert that their actions were aimed at Israel the US and the UK and would have no impact on the informal ceasefire in place on the ground in Yemeni civil war. They also said that they do not intend to target either Saudi Arabia or the UAE, as they had done during the civil war. Separately, on Jan 3, 12 countries including the US, Britain and Japan issued a joint statement cautioning the Houthis of unspecified “consequences” unless it halts its attacks, in what one U.S. official on Wednesday suggested was a final warning.

The strife in Red Sea waters, a choke point through which 12% of global maritime trade passes, strife continued to affect global commerce. According to Keil Institute, these attacks resulted in global trade dropping by 1.3% during Nov-Dec 2023.


On Jan 23, President Ebrahim Raisi visited Ankara for a summit with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Apart from bilateral ties, the two leaders also discussed regional issues with a particular focus on Israel’s ongoing conflicts with Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis. While both sides have criticised Israel and the US support for its actions, there are nuanced differences. While Iran is a diehard opponent of Israel and the US has imposed stiff economic sanctions on Tehran, Turkey, despite its criticism of Israel and the US, is a NATO member and has significant economic ties with Israel. Moreover, while Iran militarily supports the Syrian government, Turkey has been the lifeline for the Sunni rebels fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime.

In an unprecedented and unexpected move, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced on Jan 16 that it has launched near-simultaneous missile attacks on targets in Iraqi Kurdistan (aimed at an alleged Israeli espionage centre in Irbil), northern Syria (targeting Islamic State bases) and Pakistan’s Balochistan province (two bases of Jaish al-Adl Sunni militia that had carried out several operations in neighbouring Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan). A statement by the Pakistani foreign ministry on Jan 18 said that attacks on Pakistani territory which had killed two children, was “completely unacceptable” and could have “serious consequences the responsibility for the consequences will lie squarely with Iran”. On Jan 18, Pakistan launched retaliatory missile strikes using “killer drones, rockets, loitering munitions and stand-off weapons” on Iran-based bases used by the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and the associated Baloch Liberation Army, the two separatist insurgent groups fight for an independent Balochistan.  on Baluchistan Liberation Army and separatist militants inside Iran on Thursday18, in a retaliatory attack two days after Tehran said it struck the bases of another group within Pakistani territory. Iranian media said at least nine people, including four children, died in Pakistani attacks. In their respective statements, both sides claimed that their actions were defensive; they appeared to signal a desire to keep the situation contained. Pakistani statement announcing its strikes said “The sole objective of today’s act was in pursuit of Pakistan’s security and national interest, which is paramount and cannot be compromised.” Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian paid a fence-mending visit to Islamabad on Jan 29 during which both sides said they respected each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and would expand security cooperation. Iranian foreign minister said that President Ebrahim Raisi would soon visit Pakistan. The two sides also decided to have their respective ambassadors return to their posts. In a linked development on Jan 27, unidentified gunmen killed nine Pakistani workers in Saravan in Iran’s restive Sistan-Baluchestan province bordering Pakistan. These IRGC missile attacks seem to be intended to deflect domestic criticism of several acts of terrorism within Iran, including the Kerman twin bomb blasts on Jan 3 which killed nearly 100 persons. On Jan 4, the Islamic State took responsibility for the Kerman blasts, the bloodiest terrorist attack in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. On Jan 11, Iran authorities arrested 35 persons allegedly involved in the Kerman blasts.

On Jan 20 Iran successfully launched Sorayya a satellite weighing 50 kg into orbit using the Qaem 100, a three-stage solid-fuel rocket. A week later on Jan 28, also Iran successfully launched three satellites with a combined weight of 50 kg by its Simorgh (Phoenix) satellite carrier rocket which has recorded multiple past failures. These launches were jointly condemned by the UK, France and Germany as being a cover for developing long-range ballistic missiles. Iran, however, dismissed that condemnation, saying it has a right to peaceful technological advancement in the aerospace field.

IRGC Chief said on Jan 31 that Iran would respond to any US threat, as Washington prepares its response to the killing of American servicemen by presumed Tehran-aligned militants.

Financial Times reported on Jan 24 that the US had asked China to urge Iran to curb Red Sea attacks by Houthis.

On Jan 11, Iran seized St Nicolas, an oil tanker earlier involved in a dispute with the US.

On Jan 8, Canada and other stakeholder countries initiated a case against Iran at the UN Aviation Council for the 2020 downing of a Ukrainian airliner over Tehran.

On Jan 31, the US charged four Chinese nationals with crimes related to the smuggling of US-made electronic components, including some with possible military use, to Iran during the May 2007 to July 2020 period.


On Jan 25, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally approved Sweden’s bid to join NATO ending 20 months of delay as Turkey sought various concessions from Sweden over stronger actions against Turkish dissidents operating in that country and the release of a defence package by US and Canada. Ankara’s delaying tactics succeeded in pushing Sweden to make some token concessions. Following the lifting of the Turkish veto, on Jan 27 the US unblocked the $23 bn defence consignment comprising 79 modernisation kits for existing Turkish F-16s as well as 40 new F-16 planes. Canada, too, allowed drone cameras to be supplied to Turkey.  At the same time, the Turkish victory was seen as a Pyrrhic one as its blockade over Sweden’s entry into NATO taken together with its equivocation about the Russian offensive against Ukraine put it in a minority of one in NATO causing serious damage to its long-term reputation. However, President Erdogan’s hardline was quite popular with his nationalist followers at home.

On Jan 16, Maldives signed a $37 mn agreement with a Turkish company to purchase military drones to patrol the country’s nine lakh square kms exclusive maritime zone.

On Jan 2, Turkish authorities detained 34 people suspected of being linked to Israel’s Mossad intelligence service and of targeting Palestinians living in Turkey.

On Jan 12, Nine Turkish soldiers were killed in a clash with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militia. In an apparent retaliation on Jan 14, Turkey conducted air strikes in northern Iraq and Syria on which reportedly destroyed 24 Kurdish militant targets such as caves, shelters, bunkers, depots and natural gas production facilities.

On Jan.18. Turkey flew its first astronaut to the International Space Station in a SpaceX capsule, marking a milestone in the country’s nascent space program.


With Rapid Support Forces (RCF) steadily gaining ground over the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in the Sudanese civil war, the focus shifted to regional moves to stabilise the situation which has displaced more than 8 million people and killed over 13,000 since mid-April 2023. On Jan 5, SAF Chief Gen al-Burhan ruled out any reconciliation with the RSF faction. On Jan 16, the SAF-backed Sudanese foreign ministry suspended contacts with the mediation group of the IGAD which had invited RSF Chief Gen. Hemedti for parleys. However, Reuters reported on Jan 30 that the senior leaders from SAF and the RSF met three times during the month in Bahrain. These were. These parleys were also attended by representatives from Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the US. Although there was no breakthrough, holding these meetings, the first such sustained contact between the two warring sides in nine months of conflict, was itself a sign of progress. (Further Reading: “Why diplomacy over Sudan, Africa’s enduring nightmare, is stuck” The Economist,  Jan 17.)

There were persistent reports about increasing foreign involvement in the civil war. A leaked UN report cited “credible” evidence that the UAE was providing military support to the RSF. The UAE has denied taking sides in the conflict. Bloomberg reported on Jan 24 that Iran has supplied SAF with combat drones.


There was a marked escalation in Jordanian military action against Syria-based drug dealers during the month under review without any riposte from Damascus. Jordanian air force launched airstrikes inside Syria against suspected warehouses and hideouts of drug smugglers on Jan 5, 9, and 18 on such targets in Sweida province in Southern Syria killing several persons and destroying property. Moreover, the Jordanian army was also involved in an anti-narcotics drive along a 375 km long common border. A clash lasting over 10 hours with drug smugglers on Jan 6-7 led to the killing of five drug and weapons smugglers and the arrest of 15 suspects by the Jordanian army which also claimed to have recovered 627,000 pills of Captagon, an illicitly manufactured amphetamine, and 3.4kg of cannabis.

A Reuters analysis on Jan 8 conveyed that following the October 7 Hamas attack, Israel had reconfigured its strategy to deadlier and more frequent air and missile strikes on Iran-linked targets in Syria. It noted that Syria’s airports in Damascus and Aleppo, which Iran has used to transfer arms, have been rendered almost continually out of service by Israeli strikes. Israel has become less cautious and less restrained in the targeted killing of Lebanese Hezbollah cadres in Syria. The intensified Israeli air campaign has killed 19 Hezbollah members in Syria in three months – more than twice the rest of 2023 combined. On Jan 20, an Israeli air strike on Damascus killed four members of the IRGC, including a senior figure in its information unit.


Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani described the Iranian missile attack on a residential area near the U.S. consulate in Kurdistan’s capital Erbil on Jan 16 as “clear aggression” against Iraq and a dangerous development that undermined the strong relationship between Tehran and Baghdad He said Iraq reserved its right to take all legal and diplomatic measures granted to it by its sovereignty. In protest, Iraq recalled its envoy from Tehran and summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires in Baghdad. This Iranian escalation added to the already heightened sense of insecurity due to tit-for-tat attacks between the US forces in Iraq and the pro-Iranian militias which left Iraqis wondering if their country was becoming a theatre for the ongoing regional conflicts.

Earlier on Jan 4 in response to several attacks by the pro-Iranian Iraqi militias, the US forces an attack that killed Mushtaq Jawad Kazim al Jawari, a leader of Harakat al Nujaba. The next day, PM al-Sudani issued a statement saying that the Iraqi government had initiated the process to remove the US-led international military coalition comprising 2500 personnel. The first round of the formal US-Iraq bilateral talks on winding down the US-led military coalition in Iraq was held in Baghdad on Jan 27.

In a Reuters interview on Jan 10, PM al-Sudani said that while Iraq did not see the US as an enemy, Baghdad wanted a quick and orderly negotiated exit of U.S-led military forces from its soil but has not set a deadline. He described their presence as anti-IS coalition as “no longer needed” adding that it was a destabilising factor amid regional spillover from the Gaza war.

Saudi Arabia:

Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said at the World Economic Forum at Davos on Jan 16 that the kingdom could recognise Israel if a comprehensive agreement were reached that included statehood for the Palestinians.

The Saudi minister of commerce stated at WEF in Davos on Jan 16 that while the Kingdom has been invited to attend BRICS, it had not yet officially joined the organisation. This statement raised doubts about the reports, including from South Africa, BRICS current chair, that Saudi Arabia and other four countries (the UAE, Iran, Egypt and Ethiopia) had joined it from Jan 1.

A Reuters report on Jan 10 assessed the impact of the first written civil code that came into effect on Dec 16 2023, replacing a Sharia-based system where judges would have full discretion in ruling on commercial disputes.  The report quoted experts as saying that the very existence of a code succinctly clarifying the legal position on commercial issues would instil greater confidence among investors. The new law, based on Egypt’s 1849 civil law, still broadly follows sharia principles. While it was an improvement over the past, it was still some distance away from the modern international legal norms and the observers waited for its actual application to the legal practice.

A media report on Jan 24 indicated that Saudi Arabia was planning to open its first alcohol store in the capital Riyadh to serve exclusively non-Muslim diplomats accredited to the Kingdom.


 In a news conference with visiting Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Jan 21, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said that Egypt will not allow any threat to Somalia or affect its security. He was referring to a memorandum of understanding signed on Jan 1 under which Ethiopia said it would consider recognising Somaliland’s independence in return for the access to port of Berbera. It would lease 20 km (12 miles) of coastland around the port of on the Gulf of Aden, for 50 years for military and commercial purposes. Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not won recognition from any country. The port lease deal would be the realisation of sea access to landlocked Ethiopia but has enraged Somalia. Ethiopia rejected Egyptian criticism of the deal, saying it was merely a commercial agreement aimed at securing access to the sea and not an attempt to annex land.


A 16-member Kuwait cabinet was sworn in on January 17 under new Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, the former foreign minister and ex-ambassador to the US. Only three of the former cabinet members were retained. Among those changed were important ministers of oil and finance, both being non-royals. The Royal family had five members in the cabinet, including the Prime Minister. This 6th cabinet in the last 18 months and 45th since the independence of the country in 1960 followed the taking over of Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, 83, as Emir of Kuwait last month.


A member of the UN guard unit was killed in a mortar attack, claimed by al-Shabab militants on its compound in Mogadishu on Jan 11. The incident was preceded on Jan 10 by one person being killed when a chopper on a medical evacuation landed in an area controlled by al-Shabab.

On Jan 1 Bloomberg reported that Ethiopia signed a memorandum of understanding with Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia, to gain access to the Red Sea in exchange for a stake in its flagship carrier Ethiopian Airlines.

There were several reports during the month about Somali pirates trying to take advantage of the Red Sea crisis to resume their activities of hijacking commercial ships for ransom purposes.


On Jan 17, a Qatari criminal court sentenced Ali Sherif al-Emadi, former finance minister to 20 years in prison for laundering more than $5.6 bn. The court also found Sheikh Nawaf bin Jassim bin Jabor Al-Thani, a brother of Qatar’s former prime minister, guilty of misuse of public funds, sentencing him to six years in prison and fined him 825 mn riyals. Such a high-profile anti-corruption probe is unusual in the Gulf, where high-ranking public figures rarely face public scrutiny or prosecution.

The UAE:

Bloomberg reported on Jan 7 that NASA and the United Arab Emirates are to collaborate to support a lunar project aimed at building the first space station that will orbit the moon.

An investigation by the BBC revealed on Jan 23 that the UAE had funded politically motivated assassinations in Yemen since 2015. The majority of those assassinated were members of Islah – the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The UAE government has denied the allegations that it had assassinated those without links to terrorism – saying they were “false and without merit”.

According to a Dubai-based wealth and immigration adviser, the UAE saw the highest net inflow of millionaires in the world in 2022. It was estimated to have received a net inflow of another 4,500 in 2023.

On Jan 31, the UK government prohibited any changes to the ownership or control of the Telegraph newspaper pending its investigation of a bid by RedBirdIMI, a UAE-backed consortium.

II) Economic Developments

Oil & Gas Related Developments:

Global Issues:

The Brent futures for April delivery closed on Jan 31 at $80.55/barrel having gained 4.4% during the month under review owing largely to the geo-political tensions, esp. in the Red Sea outweighing anaemic recovery in major consumers such as China, Japan, Germany and the UK.

The OPEC monthly bulletin published on Jan 16 kept its forecast for world oil demand growth steady at 2.25 mbpd in 2024 and a further 1.8 mbpd increase in 2025. On the other hand, on Jan 18, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted that the global oil demand would rise by 1.24 mbpd in 2024. While the IEA had revised its demand forecast for 2024 substantially upward, it was still over 1 mbpd less than projections by the OPEC. A Reuters survey published on Jan 31, however, saw OPEC’s average January oil output at 26.33 mbpd, registering the biggest monthly drop since July. This 410,000 bpd decline from December was due to several members implementing new voluntary production cuts agreed with the wider OPEC+ alliance and unrest curbed Libyan output. An earlier Bloomberg report on Jan 23 predicted that largely owing to robust production increases by non-OPEC countries (Graphic below) as well as sagging recovery, the OPEC may have to undertake further reduction in its collective oil production during 2024 to defend the oil prices. For now, however, it concluded that the crude looks to be in a sweet spot for the global economy: “Prices aren’t surging, which would revive fears of hot inflation, but neither are they tumbling, which would bring recession angst back into play.”


A statement by the OPEC Secretary General on Jan 16 discounted the possibility of oil demand peaking as IEA and others have predicted. He contended “Ultimately, peak oil supply has never come to pass, and predictions of peak oil demand are following a similar trend.” Contradicting the aforementioned assertion, BloombergNEF put out two figures on Jan 30: Firstly, after peaking in 2017, the global sales of internal combustion-powered vehicles have dropped by 23% largely due to a surge in EVs.  Secondly, the total global spending on renewables surged 17% in 2023 to $1.8 trn with China being the leader in this trend. These include investments to install renewable energy, buy electric vehicles, build hydrogen production systems and deploy other technologies. If the investments in building out clean-energy supply chains, as well as $900 bn in financing are added to this figure, the total funding in 2023 reached about $2.8 trn.

Country Specific Developments: 

Despite Saudi expression of confidence in the healthy growth of the global oil market, their actions spoke differently. In an interview with Reuters in Davos on Jan 17, Saudi Aramco Chief expected the oil market to tighten after consumers depleted stocks by 400 mn barrels in the last two years. He deemed OPEC’s spare capacity as the main source of additional supply to meet rising demand which he quantified at 104 mbpd in 2024, meaning growth of roughly 1.5 mbpd after growing by 2.6 mbpd in 2023. However, this projection was preceded on Jan 7 by a drastic cut in Saudi Aramco’s official selling price oil price for February-loading Arab Light to Asia by $2 a barrel from January to $1.50 a barrel over Oman/Dubai quotes for Asia. This was the lowest level in 27 months and reflected Saudi perception of a weak demand in Asia, its main market. Further, on Jan 30, the Saudi government ordered Saudi Aramco to halt its oil expansion plan and to target a maximum sustained production capacity of 12 mbpd, 1 mbpd below a target announced in 2020. The kingdom has been the world’s largest oil exporter and is pumping around 9 mbpd, well below its around 12 mbpd existing capacity after it cut production as part of an agreement with OPEC and its allies last year. Apart from reflecting the lower expectation for the demand for Saudi crude, the decision was also seen as being motivated by savings on capex in an era of declining oil revenues and switching over to production of more natural gas instead. The sudden and unexpected decision on capex reversal led to a sharp 2.5% decline in global oil prices on Jan 31. The shares of the US oilfield companies also fell precipitously. In an interesting development on Jan 18, Saudi Arabia’s PIF bought 32.6% stakes in Dubai Mineral Exchange, perhaps indicating the Kingdom’s intention to get into international oil trading.  On Jan 17, Saudi Aramco boosted its Aramco Ventures unit by $4 bn to $7 bn to focus on “new energies, chemicals and transition materials, diversified industrial businesses, and digital technologies.

A Reuters exclusive report on Jan 5 said that China’s oil trade with Iran has stalled with Tehran withholding shipments and demanding higher prices from its top client, tightening cheap supply for the world’s biggest crude importer. The cutback in Iranian oil, which makes up nearly a tenth of China’s crude imports and hit a record in October, could support global prices and squeeze profits at Chinese refiners.

The protests on Jan 3, forced a shutdown of production at the 300,000 bpd Sharara oilfield, Libya’s largest causing a temporary rise in the global oil prices.

Following economy-related developments took place in WANA countries:

On Jan 31, IMF released a special update on Middle East North Africa forecasting the regional GDP growth at 2.9% for 2024, 0.5% lower than the preceding figure released in October 2023. The conflicts in Gaza and elsewhere in the region were the main reason for this downward revision. The IMF put the funding need of the region in 2024 at $186 bn, up $30 bn due to the Gaza war. The regional economy grew by 2.0% in 2023. In particular, the IMF special report expected the economy of West Pank and Gaza to contract by 6% in 2024, instead of a +3% growth forecast earlier. It projected container shipping through the Red Sea having declined by almost 30% lowering the Suez Canal earnings correspondingly for Egypt, already in a precarious economic condition. An UNCTAD report on Jan 29 listed the impact on commodity trade due to chaos in the Red Sea. It put the decline of freight through the Suez Canal at 45%.

On Jan 30 IMF’s World Economic Outlook assessed Saudi GDP as having contracted by 1.1% in 2023 reversing its previous forecast for a small expansion. This reversal – blamed mainly on lower oil prices and production cuts – made the Kingdom go down from the best-performing G-20 economy in 2022 to its worst in 2023. The GDP declined by a sharp -3.7% in Q4/23. Bloomberg said on Jan 9 that Saudi Arabia had sold $12 bn of bonds, its largest deal since 2017. Global SWF’s annual report released on Jan 1 said that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) accounted for $31.5 bn, or about a quarter of the almost $124 billion spent by sovereign wealth funds worldwide in 2023. On Jan 22, PIF announced having raised $5bn in high-grade bonds. Saudi minister for communication and IT said on Jan 16 that the PIF will make a “sizable investment” this year into the semiconductors and space sectors. Amazon and Microsoft opened their regional offices in Riyadh to comply with Saudi requirements for getting government contracts. (Further Reading: “Saudi Arabia wants to be the Saudi Arabia of minerals” The Economist, Jan 11.)

On Jan 29, the Turkish central bank raised its interest rate by 250 bps to 45% with a hawkish anti-inflation posture. It was the eighth consecutive rise since the Presidential election last May. The return to an aggressive inflation targeting by TCB resulted in some FIIs returning to the Turkish stock market.

Mubadala, one of Abu Dhabi’s SWFs, announced on Jan 23 that it aims to double its exposure to Asia to 25% of its total investments by the end of this decade.  Only 12% of Mubadala’s current asset base of nearly $300 bn is invested in Asia. Bloomberg reported on Jan 3 that Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al-Nahyan’s IHC group would spin off $27 bn of assets into a new firm called 2PointZero for managing investments across sectors ranging from financial services to mining. Dubai’s GDP grew by 3.3% in the first nine months of 2023, Although Dubai’s property boom showed signs of fizzling out, the sale of ultra-rich residences costing more than $25 mn doubled in 2023 as the global elite moved in.

On Jan 16, Israel approved its war budget providing for a Shekel 70 bn ($19 bn) surge in expenditure (including Shekel 55 bn for defence) and an estimated drop of 36 bn shekels in revenues will push this year’s deficit to 6.6% of the GDP, among the widest for Israel this century. In an article on Jan 27 on the impact of the Gaza war on the Israeli economy in al-Jazeera, no friend of the Jewish State, however, conceded that Israel’s high-tech and start-up sectors have continued to do well amidst the 4 months of conflict. It, however, cited anecdotal evidence to suggest that construction and tourism-civil aviation sectors had been badly affected, partly due to the non-entry of the Palestinian daily workers. The Gaza conflict caused the Tel Aviv airport traffic to plunge by 78% in November and 71% in December. However, as air traffic surged by 38.5% in the first 9 months of 2023, the year still saw a 10% increase. On Jan 21, Israel’s cabinet approved a plan for frozen tax funds earmarked for the Hamas-run Gaza Strip to be held by Norway instead of transferred to the Palestinian Authority.

On Jan 26, Moody’s lifted Qatar’s rating to Aa2, the third highest investment grade at par with the UAE.

On Jan 30, Kuwait’s finance ministry published its draft budget for 2024-25 estimating a deficit of Dinars 5.892 bn ($19.15 bn) with total revenues of Dinars 18.662 bn and expenditure of Dinars 24.555 bn.

III) Bilateral Developments

  • UAE’s President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan was the chief guest at the 10th Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2024 held in Ahmedabad on January 10. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi personally welcomed the UAE President on arrival and the two leaders passed through a three-kilometre-long roadshow to showcase the growing bilateral cooperation and strengthening relations. In his address at the Summit, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi extended a warm welcome to Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan emphasising that India cherishes his thoughts and efforts to boost India-UAE ties. An India-UAE Business Summit was also held to strengthen bilateral ties as part of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2024. The website of the UAE-India CEPA Council (UICC) was also launched on this occasion. The bilateral trade has increased by approximately 15% since the entry into force of the CEPA on 1 May 2022.
  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar paid an official visit to Iran on Jan 15-16 highlight of which was his call on President Ebrahim Raisi on Jan 16.  He also held talks with his Iranian counterpart. Apart from discussing bilateral relations including expediting the Chabahar port project, the two sides also focused on the ongoing West Asian crisis in general and the Red Sea maritime trade disruption in particular. Reuters reported that India was holding diplomatic talks with Iran and taking other measures to help shield its exporters from the impact of attacks on ships in the Red Sea by the Iran-aligned Houthi group in Yemen. In a statement, President Raisi said that it was important for India “to play a role in ending the bombings, lifting the blockade of this region and realising the rights of the Palestinian people”. In a related move, in his speech at the NAM Summit in Kampala on Jan 19, EAM pitched for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine problem.
  • An official Indian delegation led by Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister for Minority Affairs and Minister of State for External Affairs Shri. V. Muraleedharan participated in the Hajj and Umrah Conference and Exhibition organised by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Saudi Arabia at Jeddah. During the visit, the bilateral Haj agreement for 2024 providing for 1.75 lakh Indian pilgrims was signed on Jan 7.
  • The month under review saw several developments in defence cooperation between India and the WANA countries. India’s defence secretary visited Muscat on Jan 30-31 for the 12th Joint Military Cooperation Committee (JMCC) meeting with his Omani counterpart. They signed a Memorandum of Understanding on procurement of defence material and equipment. On Jan 11, the Saudi Chief of Naval Staff began a 4-day visit to India. The Indo-Saudi military exercises “Sada Tanseeq” were held in Rajasthan during Jan 25 -Feb 10 with 45 members of the Saudi Guards brigade participating. The first edition of the Indo-UAE joint military exercise titled “Desert Cyclone” commenced in Rajasthan on Jan 2 with 45 Emirati land force contingent participating. The 25 personnel of the Indian Parachute Regiment participated in the 2nd edition of the India-Egypt Joint Special Forces Exercise called “Cyclone” conducted at Anshas, Egypt from Jan 22 to Feb 1.
  • During the month under review, the Indian navy reportedly raised its deployment in the Gulf of Aden and Northern and Western Arabian Sea to at least 12 ships to curb piracy and provide escort to the maritime vessels traversing the Ba’ab al-Mandeb choke point. The Indian navy personnel, including special commandos, have investigated more than 250 vessels and small boats in the last two months, boarding more than 40, as piracy returns after a six-year absence. It has recorded at least 17 incidents of hijacking, attempted hijacking and suspicious approaches since Dec 1. It has saved several boats from pirates and has assisted ships in distress after being hit by the Houthi’s missiles and drones. India’s naval deployment is said to be the largest among all navies present in the region.
  • A ministry of external affairs spokesman said on Jan 5 that the earlier death sentences awarded to eight ex-Indian navy personnel in Qatar have been commuted to “varying prison sentences.”  They have 60 days to appeal the judgement in the Court of Cassation, Qatar’s highest court.  They have been under arrest since 2022 on charges which have not been made public, although some international media have mentioned that they were convicted of spying for Israel.
  • Reacting to the deadly bombing in Kerman city in Iran on the previous day, an MEA spokesman said, “We are shocked and saddened by the terrible bombings in the Kerman city of Iran. At this difficult time, we express our solidarity with the government and people of Iran.”
  • As the world’s third-largest consumer and importer of hydrocarbons, India generated several headlines during the month under review. The following deserves to be mentioned: (i) In a major policy review on Jan 26, India’s finance ministry decided to affect a Rs 20,000 crore saving in oil-related expenses during FY24 from the budgeted amount of Rs 35,000 crores. It halved the amount of equity infusion in state-owned fuel retailers to Rs 15,000 crore for supporting their investments in energy transition projects. It also scrapped Rs 5,000 crore for buying crude oil to fill strategic petroleum reserves at Mangalore and Visakhapatnam to guard against any supply disruptions. It cited lower global oil prices which have improved the financial viability of the state oil retailers as well as the need to limit its fiscal deficit to 5.9% of the GDP. (ii) A Reuters report on Jan 30 quoted trade sources and analysts to disclose that India’s exports of low-sulphur diesel to Europe had so far declined by roughly 80% month-on-month to 33,400-58,000 bpd owing to the more than 30% increase in sea fright during the past week due to Red Sea crisis. Indian refiners were looking to buyers in Asia instead. (iii) India was planning to lift its refining capacity by more than 20% over the next five years to meet its anticipated increased demand for traditional transport fuels such as gasoline and diesel. Rystad Energy puts the cost of these additions at around $60 bn. Calling it “the (world’s) last big refining boom”, a Bloomberg report on Jan 31 attributed it to “slower adoption of electric vehicles.” (iv) There were conflicting reports about India’s crude purchases from Russia during 2023: India imported an average 4.65 million barrels per day (bpd) oil in 2023, up 2% from the previous year. Imports of Russian oil accounted for about 36% of India’s total crude purchases in 2023 at 1.66 mbpd more than 2.5 times an average of 651,800 bpd imported in 2022. Owing to cheaper imports, Russia became the top source of crude to India in 2023 followed by Iraq and Saudi Arabia. OPEC’s share in India’s crude oil diet plunged to about 49.6% in the first nine months of FY24 compared with 64.5% a year earlier. However, in December India’s imports of Russian oil fell to the lowest in a year to 1.34 mbpd, down 16.3% over the previous month as several Russian oil cargoes turned away from India owing to non-competitive crude prices. (v) On Jan 6, GAIL and Vitol signed a 10-year deal to supply India with 1 MT of LNG annually.
  • The Red Sea hostilities have adversely impacted India’s foreign trade with Western countries, particularly denting our west-bound exports of agricultural goods and textiles. It has also upended the economics of Russian crude supplies to India.   According to the Chairman of the Federation of Freight Forwarders Association of India as quoted in Business Standard of Jan15, “While the rate of increase in freight charges varies between shipping lines, charges for goods headed to and from India have gone up between 15-65 per cent in the past one week.” Thus, while the Gaza war had vitiated the geopolitics for the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC), the maritime insecurity in the Red Sea had underlined its imperative rationale.
  • Media reports during the month indicated that Israel had decided to recruit manpower from Asia, including India and Sri Lanka, to replace the Palestinians. On the other hand, some other reports mentioned that the UAE ministry of human resource development (MoHRE) has mandated companies to allocate 20% of visa quotas to diverse nationalities to foster “workplace diversity.” As Indians already constitute the largest nationality among the UAE’s workforce, this implicitly discourages hiring more expatriates from India.
  • On Jan 17, India’s Sun Pharma announced a $347.8 mn deal to fully acquire all the shares of Israel’s Taro Pharmaceutical Industries it does not already own. The deal, expected to close by June 30, would culminate nearly 17 years-long efforts to gain full control of the U.S.-listed generic drugmaker which does most of its business in the United States and Canada.





The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity: Key Opportunities & Concerns for India

Arohana An Ananta Podcast Series



Ambassador Sharat Sabharwal, Former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan and Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Ananta Centre


Pramit Pal Chaudhury, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta
Mr AK Bhattacharya, Editorial Director, Business Standard, Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre Editorial Director

Pramit Pal Chaudhury, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of



Ambassador Sharat Sabharwal, Former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan and Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Ananta Centre


Pramit Pal Chaudhury, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta
Mr AK Bhattacharya, Editorial Director, Business Standard, Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre Editorial Director

Pramit Pal Chaudhury, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of



Ambassador Sharat Sabharwal, Former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan and Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Ananta Centre


Pramit Pal Chaudhury, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta
Mr AK Bhattacharya, Editorial Director, Business Standard, Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre Editorial Director

Pramit Pal Chaudhury, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of