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

IA) Political Developments: Pan-Regional and Global Issues

Gaza Conflict

During April, only one theme dominated the Gaza war: A suspended animation over Israel’s threat to assault the last redoubt of Hamas at Rafah bordering Egypt. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and other Israeli political and military leaders repeatedly expressed their resolve to attack Rafah to decimate Hamas and release remaining Israeli hostages – two main objectives of Israel’s Operation Iron Swords (OIS) campaign against Hamas. However, as over a million Gazan civilians had taken refuge in that area, there were global apprehensions that the proposed Israeli assault would cause an unprecedented humanitarian disaster.  The US, Israel’s main backer, drew a “red line”: President Biden reportedly told PM Netanyahu to protect the civilians in Gaza or the US policy would change.


The mediators, esp. Egypt and Qatar, were busy during the month to arrange a deal between Hamas and Israel anchored on a ceasefire, exchange of Israeli hostages with Palestinians in Israeli jails and increasing entry of humanitarian supplies.  But like the previous weeks when a Ramadhan ceasefire failed to materialise, the stalemate between the two sides continued: while details were sketchy, the ceasefire negotiators met in Cairo at least twice during the month: on April 7 and April 25-29. Israeli Chief of Army Staff and Shin Bet Head visited Cairo on April 25 and an Egyptian delegation went to Israel the next day. However, a final deal appeared illusive as there were too many differences between the dug-in antagonists. Israel refused to continence any return of the internally displaced persons, permanent ceasefire and a military withdrawal from Gaza (as demanded by Hamas before the release of the hostages), Hamas ruled out even a limited hostage release without these conditions being met. On the last day of the month, PM Netanyahu vowed to go ahead with a long-promised assault on Rafah, whatever the response by Hamas to the latest proposals for a halt to the fighting and a return of Israeli hostages. 


There was a near-complete military stalemate without any major shift on the ground. In anticipation of the Rafah assault, Hamas tried to sneak back its fighters to other areas of the territory that had been earlier sanitised by the Israel Defence Force (IDF). Israeli troops, in turn, tried to keep Hamas bottled up in Rafah and reoccupied areas where Hamas fighters were suspected of having regrouped. In such an operation, the IDF left the Shifa hospital compound on April 1 after two weeks of combing during which they claimed to have taken 900 Hamas and PIJ fighters as prisoners. The hospital director, however, accused IDF of killing nearly 400 Palestinians, including medical personnel. The warring sides marked 6 months of the conflict on April 7 and Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) marked 200 days of the conflict by launching several rockets into southern Israeli cities bordering the Gaza Strip in an attempt to show that the conflict had not ended yet. On the other hand, to many observers, a call-up of reservists by IDF announced on April 14 was probably intended to goad Hamas into a more flexible negotiating stance. On April 8, PM Netanyahu asserted that IDF’s OIS campaign had eliminated 15 of Hamas’ 24 battalions and the final victory was “just one step away” implying the conquest of Rafah. On its part, Israel admitted that 604 of its troops were killed in the first six months of fighting till April 7. 


In terms of specific military operations, on April 10, an IDF raid killed three sons of Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas Political head. They were active Hamas combatants.  An Israeli airstrike on April 1 killed a team of seven volunteers from the World Central Kitchen, a charity organisation distributing free meals to Gazans. As these dead were from multiple countries it caused an international furore. Israel eventually accepted the responsibility and took disciplinary action against its military men held accountable. 


Despite a military stalemate, a repugnant man-made humanitarian tragedy continued to unfold. By the end of the month, at least 34,535 Gazans were counted as dead with an estimated 10,000 more buried below the demolished buildings. Number of injured was put at 77704. At least 334 bodies were recovered from a mass grave near Khan Younis on April 22. While Gaza authorities accused Israel of the atrocity, Israel categorically denied any responsibility.


Due to several logistical and political difficulties, the availability of humanitarian materials – from food to medicines and from fuel to shelter – was in short supply. On April 24, the World Food Programme stated that Gaza could surpass the famine threshold in six weeks. On April 8, Oxfam put out that nearly 300,000 people in northern Gaza were surviving on ~245 calories of food per day. On April 2, a World Bank report put the material damage to Gaza at $18.5 bn and on April 26, the UN estimated that it may take 18 years to clear Gaza of the war debris.    

For developments in the West Bank: Please see Palestine Authority and West Bank 

For details on the flare-up between Iran and Israel: Please see Iran

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

For the Houthi missile attacks on Israel and the Red Sea area: Please see Yemen


WANA and Multilateral Diplomacy:

Following their virtual summit on April 14 in Rome to discuss Iran’s attack on Israel, Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations issued the following statement:

“We, the Leaders of the G7, unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms Iran’s direct and unprecedented attack against Israel. Iran fired hundreds of drones and missiles towards Israel. Israel, with the help of its partners, defeated the attack.

We express our full solidarity and support to Israel and its people and reaffirm our commitment towards its security.

With its actions, Iran has further stepped toward the destabilization of the region and risks provoking an uncontrollable regional escalation. This must be avoided.

We will continue to work to stabilize the situation and avoid further escalation. In this spirit, we demand that Iran and its proxies cease their attacks, and we stand ready to take further measures now and in response to further destabilizing initiatives.

We will also strengthen our cooperation to end the crisis in Gaza, including by continuing to work towards an immediate and sustainable ceasefire and the release of hostages by Hamas, and (to) deliver increased humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in need.”


The United Nations and its agencies continued to be involved in containing the conflicts and providing humanitarian succour in two WANA hotspots: Gaza and Sudan.  


On April 1, the Palestine Authority (PA) formally requested a vote in the UN Security Council (UNSC) for its bid to become a full member of the UN from its current status as its “Permanent Observer” since 2012. The UNSC appointed a committee to examine the request which in its report said that it “was unable to make a unanimous recommendation” on whether PA met the criteria.  As the PA still pressed for a UNSC vote, the same took place on April 18 when the US veto stopped the move in its tracks. The voting was 12-1-2 with the UK and Ireland abstaining. In its explanation for the veto, the US delegation said “The US continues to strongly support a two-state solution. This vote does not reflect opposition to Palestinian statehood, but instead is an acknowledgement that it will only come from direct negotiations between the parties.” The issue was next tabled at the UN General Assembly, which in a vote on May 10 overwhelmingly supported (143-9-25) the proposal.  Separately, three European states, Spain, Ireland and Norway collectively declared on April 12 that they were “close to recognising Palestine as a country.”(Comment: The PA bid for full membership of the UN has been on the table for decades. The UN membership is open to “peace-loving states” that accept the obligations in the founding UN Charter and are able and willing to carry them out. Such membership would effectively recognize a Palestinian state. The PA move was essentially meant to leverage the growing schism on a two-state solution between Israel (which has formally ruled it out) and the US, which has lately favoured it. However, as the US doublespeak revealed, when push comes to shove, Israel still has a veto on the US position on this issue.) 


On April 17 the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) made a “flash appeal” for $2.8 bn in funding to assist more than three million people in Gaza and the West Bank until the end of the year, to help ease food shortages and prevent looming famine in Gaza. A major chunk of funding – $782.1 mn – will be destined for food aid for 2.2 mn people in Gaza and 400,000 people in the West Bank. The next day the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described Israel’s commitments to improve aid access in the Gaza Strip having had “limited and sometimes nil” impact. Earlier on April 6, he expressed being troubled by Israeli use of artificial intelligence in the Gaza war.


On April 30, the International Court of Justice ruled against Nicaragua’s plea for issuing emergency orders to stop German arms exports to Israel. The ICJ, however, expressed deep concern about “catastrophic living conditions in Gaza”.


Towards the end of April Israeli leadership and military began worrying about the threat of the International Criminal Court issuing arrest warrants against some of them for violation of human rights during the Gaza campaign. A precedent had already been set against Russian President Putin last year vis a vis the war in Ukraine. On April 30, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said “If the International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants for government officials on charges related to the conduct of its war against Hamas, it would be a scandal on a historic scale.” There were media reports about Israel quietly asking the Biden administration to wield its influence to prevent this from happening. (Comment: Israel is not a member of the court and does not recognise its jurisdiction, but the Palestinian territories were admitted as a member state in 2015. In 2021 the ICC opened an official investigation into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the occupied Palestinian territories. ICC prosecutor said in October 2023 that the court had jurisdiction over any potential war crimes carried out by Hamas fighters in Israel and by Israelis in the Gaza Strip.)


A committee headed by a former French foreign minister to ‘review UNRWA’s ability to ensure neutrality and respond to allegations of breaches’ submitted its report on April 22. It noted that UNRWA has “a more developed approach” to neutrality than other similar UN or aid groups. “Despite this robust framework, neutrality-related issues persist,” her report found. The UN Secretary-General accepted the report and 10 of the 16 countries which had paused funding the UNRWA resumed their contributions. However, the US (the biggest contributor), Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and Lithuania had not done so. 


On April 15, the first anniversary of the Sudanese civil war, the UN organised a donors’ meeting in Paris where it appealed for $2.7 bn in assistance to avert the world’s largest humanitarian crisis unfolding in Sudan as well as $1.4 bn in neighbouring states where nearly 1.5 mn Sudanese had sought refuge. Only $1.07 bn were committed by various donors including Germany ($260 mn) and the US ($100 mn).  


On April 2, the UN Security Council considered the attack on Iran’s embassy compound in Syria without reaching any conclusion.  It failed to issue a Russian-drafted press statement condemning Israel for this attack as the US, Britain and France opposed it claiming that many of the facts of the case remained unclear.


According to a SIPRI report published on April 22, a sharp increase in defence expenditure by Israel and Saudi Arabia led to a 9% rise in the defence budget in the Middle East region last year, the biggest annual increase in a decade. The region spent 4.2% of its GDP on the military, the highest in the world which averaged 2.3%.


WANA and the United States:

On April 9, President Joe Biden described Israeli PM Netanyahu’s approach to the war in Gaza as “a mistake.” That, however, did not prevent him from a massive $26 bn aid package to Israel on April 24. It had two parts: $17 bn in military assistance and $9 bn for humanitarian purposes. (Comments: The passage of the billions in assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan was delayed by weeks of filibusters in the US Congress as Republicans wanted to link it with measures against illegal immigration across the Mexican border. The delay caused anguish among the recipients even as the US continued to supply military hardware to Israel in small packages below the Congressional oversight threshold. The delay also became politically countercyclical as it coincided with leaks about the US contemplating restrictions in military supplies to Israel to oppose its assault on Rafah, Hamas’ last redoubt. It also provoked the pro-Palestinian protests and sit-ins in several American universities, many of them in the Ivy League.)   


Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State began his tour of the WANA region in Saudi Arabia on April 29 aimed at facilitating a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, exchange of hostages and imprisoned Palestinians and expanding supplies of relief material to Gazans. He later visited Cairo and Jerusalem. In Riyadh, he was received by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and addressed the GCC foreign ministers’ meeting. (Comment: Blinken’s seventh visit to the region did not make much headway mainly because of Israeli insistence on launching an assault on the Rafah area in Gaza.)  


On April 9, the US sent Iranian weapons (seized on high seas en route to Houthis in Yemen) to Ukraine. 


During the month the US wavered publicly about taking measures to curb anti-Palestinian excesses by some Israeli military units. On April 20, the US announced a new series of sanctions linked to Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank. In an anti-climax on April 29, a US State Department investigation reported having found five units of Israel’s security forces responsible for gross violations of human rights before the ongoing Gaza conflict. (Comment: While it was the first time Washington had reached such a conclusion about Israeli forces, it petered off with a whimper. None of the units has been barred from receiving US military aid: four of them have taken remedial actions. The US has not determined yet if sufficient remedial action had been taken by the fifth unit, Netzah Yehuda, an infantry battalion comprising ultra-Orthodox Jewish men operating in the West Bank.)


The head of the US CentCom, the military formation covering the WANA region, visited Israel and met with the IDF hierarchy. 


On April 16, Google fired 28 employees involved in protests against Project Nimbus, a $1.2 bn joint contract with Amazon.com to provide the Israeli government and military with AI and cloud services.


WANA and Russia:

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on April 16 to urge all sides to show restraint to contain escalating regional tensions.


On the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s meeting in Kazakhstan, the Russian Defence Minister met with his Iranian counterpart on April 26.  He noted that bilateral defence contacts have increased significantly recently and expressed Russia’s readiness to expand them further.


Bloomberg reported on April 17 that Russia was pressing ahead with the construction of two new transport corridors linking Asia and Europe. The planned shipping and rail networks via Iran and an Arctic Sea passage could strengthen Moscow’s pivot toward WANA and Asia by outflanking both the Western trade sanctions over the Ukraine conflict as well as the Middle East turmoil.


WANA and China:


China hosted talks between Fatah and Hamas factions of the Palestinian movement in Beijing aimed at mutual reconciliation. This was announced by the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman on April 30 without providing more details about the date and their outcome.


In the aftermath of the Iranian missile and drone attack on Israel, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with his Iranian and Saudi counterparts on April 15.  He expressed China’s willingness to work with each of the two countries to avoid further escalation in the region. He also conveyed that China strongly condemns and resolutely opposed the Iranian embassy attack in Damascus, and calls the incident “unacceptable.”


WANA and Pakistan:


Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia saw significant momentum during April. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif visited the Kingdom twice during the month and the Saudi Foreign Minister dashed to Islamabad. As per a long-established Pakistani tradition dating back to Zia ul-Haq days, PM Sharif spent Lailatul-Qadr with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) on April 7. During this religio-political meeting Saudi side agreed to expedite a long-promised $5 bn investment package for Pakistan. On April 14-15, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah visited Islamabad ostensibly to discuss details about Saudi investments in Pakistan. PM Shahbaz Sharif was back in Saudi Arabia on April 28-29 to take part in the World Economic Forum held in Riyadh. He was received by MbS on April 29. (Comment: Even if Pakistani leaders are frequent fliers to Saudi Arabia, MbS receiving PM Sharif twice within the month is more than what meets the eye. Moreover, the Saudi Foreign Minister is hardly the concerned official to discuss investments abroad. These factors suggest that Saudi ardour for Pakistan has more to do with regional instability than anything else. Given the subterranean negotiations on a landmark Saudi-US defence agreement, Riyadh may perhaps like to revive the presence of Pakistani boots on Saudi ground as was the trilateral arrangement during the 1980s.) 


Bloomberg reported on April 18 that Saudi Arabia was considering investing $1 bn in the Reko Diq copper and gold mine in Baluchistan currently managed by Berrick Group of Canada.


Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi paid an official visit to Pakistan on April 22-24. He was accompanied by Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian and some other senior officials. He held talks with Pakistani PM Shahbaz Sharif and other senior leaders of the host country. Eight memoranda of understanding were signed during the visit which also included Lahore and Karachi. President Raisi called for the annual bilateral trade to be raised fivefold to $10 bn without specifying the time frame. The Joint Statement issued after the visit called on the UN Security Council to take action against Israel, saying it had “illegally” targeted neighbouring countries and foreign diplomatic facilities. Acknowledging that the Pakistan-Iran common border should be the ‘border of peace and friendship’, both sides reiterated the importance of forging regular cooperation and exchange of views between political, military and security officials of the two countries to combat threats such as terrorism, narcotics smuggling, human trafficking, hostage-taking, money-laundering and abduction. Both sides highlighted the need to resolve the issue of Kashmir “through dialogue and peaceful means based on the will of the people of that region, and in accordance with international law.” On April 23, a State Department Spokesman advised Pakistan to be aware of the potential risk of sanctions whosoever considers signing business deals with Iran. (Comment: Although President Raisi’s visit to Pakistan was largely a flag-showing exercise, its significance lay in its topical context. It took place within three days of an Israeli attack on Isfahan and three months of the two countries having hurled projectiles at each other across their long and restive common border. Several factors such as difficult border terrain, ethnic and tribal differences and geo-political differences have impeded substantive ties between Pakistan and Iran. However, with each of them facing tough neighbourhoods elsewhere and economic travails, having tranquillity along their long common border has become desirable.)



IB) Political Developments


On April 17, the Israeli cabinet approved a $5bn plan to bolster the development of towns bordering the Gaza Strip.


After having withdrawn some units from Gaza earlier, on April 14, IDF called some reservists to join the operations in that combat zone. Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s government continued to be buffeted by contrarian pressures about the law exempting ultra-orthodox Jewish groups from military service. (Further Reading: The short-sighted Israeli army, The Economist, April 11.) 


Amidst reports about the Biden administration contemplating restricting military hardware supplies to Israel, the media reports revealed quoting SIPRI that the US and Germany were the main foreign suppliers with 69% and 30% share respectively of such imports by Israel during 2019-23. Israel has been the largest beneficiary of US military aid worldwide, receiving $3.8 bn of such assistance annually. 


On April 22, the head of Israeli military intelligence resigned after accepting responsibility for the failures that allowed the devastating Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct 7.


On April 2 Knesset approved a bill allowing the temporary closure in Israel of foreign broadcasters considered to be a threat to national security. The measure seemed designed with an eye to the activities of Qatari-funded al-Jazeera TV channel which Israeli authorities have often accused of incitement and alti-Israel propaganda. The East Jerusalem office of al-Jazeera was eventually closed on May 5, even as the channel continued to operate in the Gaza war zone.


Palestine Authority and West Bank: 


On April 23, Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa, appointed last month, announced a package of reforms. These were aimed at improving transparency and fighting corruption, overhauling the justice system and security sectors and improving public sector efficiency. Emphasis was also laid on improving the health and education system strengthening public finances and economic management. (Comment: There was hardly anything new or inspiring in the reform package. Such rhetorical promises about improved governance have been made umpteen times before and are unlikely to restore confidence among Palestinians who have become deeply disillusioned with the PA set up more than 30 years ago. It, however, is significant in the context of the endgame of the eventual Israeli military withdrawal from Gaza. The Israelis have ruled out Hamas returning to power in Gaza and they do not want to be bogged down in that territory either militarily or administratively. To that end, they may reconcile with the US and moderate Arab regimes that Fatah-led reformed PA may be the best among bad options. To make that look better, a “new and improved” PA is being unveiled. Whether it remains a cosmetic exercise or can be nudged into a governance structure capable of reconstructing Gaza after its destruction of Biblical proportions since Oct 7, remains to be seen. One would be well advised to have a ladleful of salt at hand!)  


The security situation in the Occupied West Bank (OWB) continued to be disturbed. After an Israeli teen was found killed on April 13, the Jewish settlers went on a rampage killing 3 Palestinians during the next two days of rioting. On April 20, 14 Palestinians were killed during Israeli forces raid on Tulkarm. During the first six months since Oct 7,  466 Palestinians and 13 Israelis have died in violent incidents in OWB.


Times of Israel reported on April 24 that an ultra-right Israeli minister was pushing for early legalisation of 68 illegal Jewish outposts in the West Bank. The report called it “one of the most dramatic expansions” for the settlement movement in decades. The US State Department criticised the move as “dangerous and reckless.”




Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati visited France and was received by President Emanuel Macron on April 18. They discussed ways to contain the Israel-Hezbollah conflict and ease Lebanon’s political stalemate. To follow up on the Summit French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne visited Lebanon on April 28 and was received by Lebanese politicians and military leaders. He seemed to have revived an earlier French proposal under which Hezbollah fighters pull back 10 km from the Israeli border, while Israel would halt strikes in southern Lebanon. Sejourne claimed “a lot of progress” over the French proposal. He was scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia and Israel later in this regional tour.


Sporadically hostilities among Israel-Hezbollah continued during April. As Israel’s military campaign in Gaza stalled, the Israel Defence Force (IDF) reinforced its strength and adopted a more offensive profile against Hezbollah in the north. Hezbollah shot down two Israeli Hermes drones on April 7 and 21 respectively and launched its deepest missile attack on Acre in Israel on April 23. Israel responded the next day by hitting 40 Hezbollah targets by air and artillery strikes. Israeli air attacks on April 8 and 16 killed two Hezbollah field commanders. During six months since Oct 7, these hostilities caused the death of 270 Hezbollah fighters and 50 Lebanese civilians. On the other hand, 12 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians also died.


The annual inflation in Lebanon in March was 70.4%. While it was still very high, it was for the first time in 4 years that the figure had receded below the 100% mark. 


On April 27, Lebanon’s cabinet instructed the foreign affairs ministry to file a declaration accepting the ICC’s jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes committed on Lebanese territory since Oct 7.



The month began with a bang on April 1 as an early morning air attack on the Iranian consulate building in Damascus killed 11 persons, 7 of them from Iran’s Islamic Republic Guards Corps (IRGC) including three generals. While Israel was widely suspected of having carried out the attack, it neither denied nor confirmed having done so.  On April 3, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei promised to punish Israel for this audacious attack. The retribution came on April 13 in the form of a massive salvo of over 300 drones and missiles launched by Iran at Israel. While 99% of these were claimed to have been shot down by Israel, Jordan and the US, an Israeli airbase at Nevatim was hit, but continued to be operational. Although Israel denied any serious damage being caused by the Iranian attack except injury to a 7-year-old girl, it promised a tit-for-tat retaliation. On April 19, Iran claimed to have shot down three Israeli mini drones near the central city of Isfahan, close to several of the country’s nuclear installations. Iran claimed that these were launched from within Iran, caused no damage and, therefore, needed no retaliation. However, satellite imagery-supported foreign media reports indicated that an Israel air-launched Blue Sparrow missile had hit the S-300 anti-air missile installation near Isfahan airport. (Comment: Iran and Israel have long practised their mutual hostilities in shadows and have hitherto avoided an open, direct confrontation. Tehran has used its Axis of Resistance proxies, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Houthis, to hit Israel. Tel Aviv has tried to sabotage the Iranian nuclear programme and degrade the Iranian presence in Syria and Lebanon through unacknowledged covert actions. However, the April 1, 13 and 19 attacks were the first direct mutual face-offs by the two antagonists. While they thus created a new precedent making the region a more dangerous place, there seems to have been some calibrated semblance of incrementality and moderation in the escalation. Iran waited for nearly 13 days, gave 72 hours warning to countries in the flight path of its projectiles, used older and less lethal projectiles and chose less sensitive targets in Israel. Similarly, the Israeli response was largely symbolic and demonstrated its capability to hit Iran’s nuclear installations. Thus, while both sides raised the ante in their conflict and crossed previously set red lines, their actions were one-off within each other’s tolerance zone. Moreover, there was a huge asymmetry in capabilities and costs: while Israel had clear strategic superiority, Iran compensated it with numbers. Iran’s barrage of projectiles was estimated to have cost $80 mn, while Israel and her friends probably spent over $1.2 bn in bringing them down. Further Reading: “The conflict, from Nebuchadnezzar to Netanyahu”, Mahesh Sachdev, The Hindu, April 25.) 


Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian visited Muscat on April 7 in an apparent bid to use Omani good offices to signal Iran’s relatively moderate response to the Israeli attack of April. He later visited Damascus to open the new Consulate building in place of the one destroyed in the Israeli raid. 


After visiting Pakistan (For details please see WANA and Pakistan) Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi paid a brief visit to Sri Lanka on April 24. During the visit, the first by an Iranian President since 2008, a $514 mn hydro-electric dam project built with Iranian assistance was inaugurated and 5 bilateral MoUs were signed.


The Iranian attack on Israel prompted a rare phone conversation between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed on April 17. President Putin also spoke with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and called for restraint by all sides. The US made it clear that it was not a party to the conflict. On April 18, the US and the UK announced sanctions on Iran to curb its UAV production capabilities.


IRGC hierarchy continued to breathe fire against Israel. Thus, on April 18, an IRGC Brigadier warned that if Israel strikes at Iran’s nuclear facilities, Iran will attack Israel’s nuclear sites and may pursue the nuclear weapon capability.  (IAEA, which has several Iranian nuclear sites under its watch, stated on April 21 that none of those had been attacked by Israel.) Earlier on April 5, the head of IRGC Navy considered Israeli presence in the UAE to be a threat and it could close the Strait of Hormuz if deemed necessary. 


On April 13, the IRGC navy landed on Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries near the Strait of Hormuz and took it to Iranian waters. The vessel is on lease from a company partly owned by an Israeli shipping concern. On April 27Iran decided to release the ship’s crew of 25 of whom 17 were Indians.  


Iran’s restive Sistan-Balochistan province in the east bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan witnessed two attacks by Jaish al-Adl Sunni-rebel militia on April 4 and 9. The first attack killed 11 IRGC personnel and 16 rebels, while the second killed 5 policemen.



After a relative lull in al-Houthi attacks on ships and the US-led coalition’s counterattacks, the last week of April saw a resurgence. On April 27, Panama-flagged Andromeda Star was attacked in the Gulf of Aden and Houthis shot down a US MQ-9 Reaper attack drone.  Houthi leader Abdel Malik al-Houthi warned that their forces were capable of operating in the Indian Ocean as well. Earlier on April 9 he had disclosed that 37 people were killed in 424 airstrikes by the US and the UK forces so far.  Houthi attacks targeted two vessels on April 7 and four vessels on April 10. On April 9, Israel shot down a Houthi missile headed towards Eilat.  


A Bloomberg study estimated on April 28 that shipping diversions due to Houthi attacks had increased the carbon emissions by equivalent consumption by 9 mn automobiles. 



President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Iraq on April 22 and 23. During his stay in Baghdad, he and Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia al-Sudani discussed bilateral relations, focussing on issues related to security and trade, which currently stood at $19.9 bn. The two sides agreed to cooperate in curbing the activities of Kurdish militias such as PKK which Ankara regards as terrorist outfits. During the visit, twenty MoUs were signed, the most important being a $17 bn development Road and railway project aimed at making Iraq a transit hub between Asia and Europe. Qatar and the UAE were also to partner in this specific project. Before returning to Ankara, the Turkish President’s entourage also stopped over in Erbil to talk with leaders of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). (Comment: This was the first visit by President Erdogan to Iraq since 2011 and seems to indicate the thawing of their relations which had remained tense over the Turkish military campaign against Iraq-based Kurdish militias. However, the visit yielded little of substance and was deafeningly silent over the resumption of Iraqi crude exports through a pipeline running overland to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Cehan.  Moreover, Erdogan’s Erbil visit seems to indicate a softening of his approach towards the Kurdish issue which has defied resolution despite over a decade of Ankara’s quest for a military solution.)


On April 20, President Erdogan received Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ Political wing based in Doha. They discussed various issues connected with the Gaza conflict where Turkey has strongly supported Hamas.


Reacting to Israeli refusal to let Turkey airdrop relief material and foodstuff over Gaza, on April 9 Ankara restricted export of 54 items to the Jewish state until a ceasefire in Gaza takes effect. In response, the Israeli Foreign Minister threatened to block other Turkish exports as well.   


On April 6, Turkish security authorities detained 48 Islamic State operatives allegedly involved in a shooting incident at an Istanbul church in January this year




Sudan’s civil war completed one year on April 15. To mark this sombre anniversary, the UN organised a Donors’ Meet in Paris at which the UN Secretary-General mentioned the likelihood of “crimes against humanity” having been committed during the past year of no-holds-barred conflict between Sudan Armed Force (SAF) and Rapid Support Force (RSF). 


According to the UN data nearly 25 mn people, half of Sudan’s 48 mn population, need humanitarian aid. Nearly 8.5 mn have fled their homes – of which some 1.8 mn have taken refuge in the neighbouring countries. Over 15,000 civilians have been killed in fighting across the country. The hostilities have pushed millions into extreme hunger, created the world’s largest displacement crisis, and triggered waves of ethnically driven killings and sexual violence in the Darfur region of western Sudan. bordering Chad where RSF and its Arab militia proxies (called “Janjaweed”) have reportedly been committing atrocities on the African-origin non-Arab ethnic groups.  In a significant development on April 29, Musa Hilal, a Janjaweed leader, broke ranks with RSF and declared his allegiance to the SAF. 


Elsewhere in fighting, the tide has turned perceptibly in SAF’s favour since early 2024 reportedly with Iranian drones playing a major role. According to some reports, while SAF has been helped by Egypt and Iran, RSF has been receiving military assistance from the UAE, Chad and Khalifa Haftar’s forces in Libya. Earlier, Wagner Group was also helping RSF. The UAE has strongly denied its military involvement, claiming that it has supplied only humanitarian relief material.  (Further Reading: “After a year of war, Sudan is a failing state” The Economist, April 15.)



During the month Syria was a theatre of contestation between Iran and its proxies on one hand and Israel and the US on the other. On April 1 an air raid on the Iranian consulate in Damascus killed 13 persons, including 7 Iranian Revolutionary Guards of whom three were of General’s rank. (Details under Iran).


On April 19, presumably as a part of the Israeli retaliatory attack on Isfahan on the same day, Israel knocked down some Syrian air defence systems south of Damascus. 


On April 21, pro-Iranian Iraqi militia launched 5 missiles across the Syria-Iraq border at a US base located in northeastern Syria. 



Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani visited the United States and was received by President Joe Biden at the White House on April 15. He was accompanied by the Deputy PM who conferred with Secretaries of Defence and State. The US, which has 2500 troops in Iraq, urged for the “need to transit to an enduring security relationship.” The visit was overshadowed by Iranian missile and drone attack on Israel and both sides called for restraint to avoid any escalation. The US announced approval of a potential sale of aircraft support deal worth $140 mn to Iraq. (Further Reading: Iraq’s dangerous balancing act between Iran and the US, Al-Jazeera, April 17.) 


The US military positions in Iraq and Syria came under drone and missile attacks on April 22 after three months of relative peace. It was preceded by the April 20 attack on the Kalso base of Hashad al-Shaabi (pro-Iran Popular Mobilisation Force) near Baghdad which left 1 dead and 8 injured. No one claimed responsibility for this attack. 


Saudi Arabia:

The special meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Riyadh on April 27-28 came to be preoccupied by the ongoing Gaza war and the accompanying humanitarian crisis. It was attended by the Palestine President, the Omani Crown Prince, PMs from Qatar and Pakistan, the US Secretary of State, and Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said the United States “is the only country capable” of preventing Israel’s long-feared invasion of Rafah city in southern Gaza. 


On April 26, Saudi Arabia joined the World ATA Carnet Council (WATAC), becoming the 80th country to implement the temporary entry system for goods from June this year. The measure is to allow temporary import of goods for one year without fees, taxes, or customs procedures, provided they are re-imported or exported. It would help, among other things, Saudi bid to host major international events and exhibitions.  


In a dramatic sign of changing times, the Saudi capital Riyadh is to hold the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Finals for the next three years, 2024-2026.


The UAE:

The United Arab Emirates entered Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements with two Latin American countries: Costa Rica on April 17 and Columbia on April 18.


Heavy unseasonal rains on April 17 laid bare Dubai’s claim to have a swanky infrastructure. It caused massive waterlogging on roads and flooding of residential and commercial areas. 254 mm (10 inches) of rain, a record, fell in less than 24 hours in Al Ain creating apocalyptic scenes associated more with the eastern coastline of the Arabian Sea. The metrologists believed that the downpour was caused mainly by climate change, with artificial cloud seeding for rains playing some role.  


South Africa sent an official delegation led by Vice President and Justice Minister to the UAE on April 24 to press for early extradition of Atul and Rajesh Gupta, two brothers allegedly involved in influence peddling during President Jacob Juma’s days at the helm. 



President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi his third term in office on April 2. (Comment: Following two years of economic doldrums marked by high inflation, crippling forex shortage and a stagnant economy, the third term began on a more propitious note: An economic reprieve of over $50 bn in various bailouts from Britton Woods institutions and the oil-rich Gulf monarchies. Egypt and President el-Sisi were in reckoning also for a moderating influence on conflicts in Gaza and Sudan. The Gulf monarchies were also banking on the country playing a stabilising role in case of a wider flare-up between Iran and Israel.



On April 17, Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani lamented that Qatar had been “exploited, abused over its mediation” in the Gaza War and “was being undermined by those trying to score political points” He said that Qatar has called for a comprehensive evaluation of this role. “We are now at this stage to evaluate mediation (between Hamas and Israel) and also evaluate how the parties engage in this mediation.” (Comment: Qatari diplomacy has long leveraged its mediatory skills to punch above its weight. But its performance in mediating a ceasefire in the Gaza war has been largely unsuccessful with the two antagonists sticking to their guns. This failure has been criticised by Israeli leaders including PM Netanyahu who has pressed Doha authorities to expel the Hamas political bureau and freeze its bank accounts. Doha has so far refused to act in that direction. Some members of the US Congress have also been sharply critical of the Qatari role in the Gaza War, including slanted coverage by the Doha-based and Qatari-funded al-Jazeera TV channel.) 


Kuwaiti voters cast their votes for Parliamentary elections on April 4. It was the fourth such exercise since Dec 2020 as the country suffered from political paralysis due to frictions between legislative and executive dominated by the Royal family. Following the elections, the cabinet resigned on April 6 but was asked by Amir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to continue till a replacement is in place.



On Eid al-Fitr, 1584 prisoners received Royal pardons from their sentences and were released on April 8.


II) Economic Developments

Oil & Gas Related Developments:

Global Issues:

Although April saw plenty of volatility in oil prices due largely to Iran-Israel tensions, the oil prices ended the month at Brent July’s future price at $87.86/barrel – virtually unchanged from $87.00 in its beginning. It recorded a high of over $92/barrel, the highest since Oct 2023, on April 13 following Iran’s missile and drone attack on Israel. A Reuters survey on April 30 estimated that OPEC pumped 26.49 mbpd in April, down 100,000 bpd from March’s revised total. The decline was reflected in lower exports from Iran, Iraq and Nigeria against a backdrop of ongoing voluntary supply cuts by some members agreed with the wider OPEC+ alliance. Several members of OPEC+, made new cuts in January to counter the global economic weakness and increased supply outside the group (such as US Permian Basin and Guyana). Producers agreed in March to keep the cuts in place until the end of June. The oil prices had risen by 16% since the beginning of 2024 till April 17. (Further Reading: “Even without war in the Gulf, pricier petrol is here to stay”, The Economist, April 17.) 


In an op-ed article in the Middle East Economic Survey on April 26, OPEC SG Haitham al-Ghais discredited the projection of the “end of the oil era.” He pointed out that despite the world having invested over $9.5 tr in transition costs over the past two decades, wind and solar still only supply just under 4% of the world’s energy, while electric vehicles have a total global penetration rate of between 2% and 3%. He concluded, “The reality is that many alternatives cannot replace oil at the necessary scale, or are unaffordable in many regions.”


Country Specific Developments: 

On April 18, the IMF projected that Saudi Arabia needed a minimum oil price of $96.20/barrel and production of 9.3 mbpd to be able to balance its budget. On April 2 Saudi Aramco awarded $7.7 bn in contracts to expand its Fadhili gas plant’s processing capacity to 4 bcf/day from 2.5 bcf at present. The expansion, expected to be completed by Nov 2027, will contribute to Aramco’s strategy to boost its gas production by more than 60% during 2021-30. 


Iraq produced 4.17 mbpd in March, down 30,000 bpd over last month. However, it was still over its reduced output target under the OPEC+ collective decision effective January this year. An unclaimed drone attack on April 26 on the Khor Musa gas field in Iraqi Kurdistan, killed 4 persons and disrupted 2.5 GW of power generation. 


Bloomberg cited an unpublished report by a UNSC-appointed panel of investigators on April 26 that Dubai-based Hamad Bin Khalifa Department of Projects, a little-known company run by a distant relative of the Abu Dhabi royal family, and South Sudan’s then-finance minister appear to have agreed to lend $12.9 bn to South Sudan in exchange for repayment in oil.


Following economy-related developments took place in WANA countries:

On April 18, The International Monetary Fund issued its biannual economic outlook for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) estimating that the region’s economy would grow at a slower pace this year than it previously projected. The decline was due to the combined impact of factors such as the conflicts in Gaza, Sudan and West Bank, attacks on Red Sea shipping, lower output of oil and decline in its unit price adding to existing challenges of high debt and borrowing costs. The IMF revised its 2024 growth forecast for the MENA region downward to 2.7% from 3.4% in its October regional outlook. However, despite a 0.7% decline, it is still an improvement from the 1.9% growth recorded in 2023. Granularly, Gulf economies are seen growing 2.4% this year, a downward revision of 1.3% from October, the IMF said. Non-hydrocarbon growth in the oil-rich region will be the main driver of growth going forward and ambitious plans to diversify their economies are expected to reduce dependence on hydrocarbons, the IMF said. Non-Gulf oil exporters are seen growing 3.3% in 2024, up from 3% seen in October. Within MENA, oil exporters are seen faring better, with the IMF projecting 2.9% growth this year, up 1% from last year. Assuming the negative factors cited above ease in 2025, the IMF forecasts growth to strengthen to 4.2%. 


The 2024 Kearney FDI Confidence Index, released on April 3, showed the UAE and Saudi Arabia ranked 8th and 14th globally, each having climbed 10 ranks. No other WANA economies were mentioned in the Global rankings, although the Emerging Market rankings included Egypt (15th), Turkey (16th) and Oman (25th). (Comment: India was ranked 18th in the Global ranking having fallen two places over its last year’s ranking.)


The WEF Special Meeting hosted in Riyadh was impacted by the host Saudi Arabia recording flat economic growth in 2023 largely owing to lower oil revenue due to reduced production and sharp fall in prices. This led to a string of recent decisions to scale back or delay Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious Vision 2030. Riyadh was now expected to have 10 mn residents by 2030 instead of 15 mn envisaged earlier. Similarly, the number of residents expected to live by 2030 in futuristic Neom City, a $1.5 tr project, was scaled back by 80% – from 1.5 mn to 300,000. The oil production capacity expansion project has already been nixed. On April 28, NEOM, a unit of the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, secured a new revolving credit facility (RCF) worth 10 bn riyals ($2.67 bn) from local banks. On April 26, Saudi Arabia joined the World ATA Carnet Council (WATAC), becoming the 80th country to implement the temporary entry system for goods from June this year. The measure is to allow temporary import of goods for one year without fees, taxes, or customs procedures, provided they are re-imported or exported. It would help, among other things, Saudi bid to host major international events and exhibitions.  


On April 15, Bloomberg disclosed that Turkey’s Central Bank (TCB) lost $25 bn in 2023 a sharp reversal of years of profit. The loss was driven by sharply higher interest rates and the cost of a government-backed savings program designed to shield depositors against currency depreciation. The annual inflation reached a record 68.5% in March 2024, despite a rise in bank rate to 50%. TCB, however, remained optimistic that the inflation rate would come down to 36% by the end of 2024.


On April 2, a review by Fitch Ratings maintained Israel‘s ‘A+’ sovereign credit rating and removed the country from “rating watch negative”. It, however, gratuitously said Israel’s war against Islamist group Hamas in Gaza remained a risk.


The UAE grabbed economic headlines during the month for several reasons. Abu Dhabi’s Royal family member Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al-Nahyan was a media cynosure for managing its several Sovereign Wealth Funds totalling $1.5 tr.  Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum approved the construction of a new airport in Dubai, five times bigger than the existing airport. It would cost $35 bn and would have an annual passenger capacity of 260 mn, the world’s largest. In a related development, Emirate-owned Dubai Holdings refinanced a 30 bn dirham ($8.2 bn) loan to replace older facilities at the two state-backed developers it absorbed last month, better positioning itself to capitalize on a boom in the city’s real estate market. OpenAI’s Chief Sam Altman visited the UAE to meet with Emirati officials and investors during the second week of April to leverage the keen interest the UAE has evinced in this promising IT domain. 


On April 8 Bank of Israel decided to keep the bank rate steady at 4.5% even as the inflation dropped to 2.5%. The bank sought to justify the tight money policy pointing to the rise of fiscal deficit to 6.2% due to war-related expenses. In related economic developments, on April 18, S&P cut Israel’s credit rating to A+ from AA- projecting the fiscal deficit to rise to 8.0% by the end of 2024. Moody’s too downgraded Israel while Fitch rated Israel at A+ and removed it from the negative watch list.


Israeli startups were able to raise $3.1 of funds in the months following the beginning of the Gaza conflict on Oct 7. This was far shorter than the $4.3 bn raised during the preceding 6 months.


Egypt’s net international reserves surged to $40.4 bn on April 4, the highest in about two years, following a landmark investment deal with the UAE.


III) Bilateral Developments


  • Official data on India’s oil and gas consumption during FY 2023-24 provided interesting insights. The oil consumption averaged 4.67 mbpd during FY24, up 5% over FY23. Diesel consumption rose by 4.4%, petrol by 6.6%, bitumen by 9.9% cooking gas by 8%. The usage of fuel oil fell by 6.3% during FY24. On a longer-term basis, during the last decade (2013-14 to 2023-24), the annual consumption of petrol increased by 117%, diesel by 31%, aviation turbine fuel by 50% and LPG by 82%, according to the petroleum and natural gas ministry data. Kerosene consumption slumped by 93% during this period as the government’s clean cooking drive increased access to LPG.
  • In value terms, India’s Net oil and gas import bill (crude oil plus petroleum product plus LNG import bill minus exports) stood at $121.6 bn in FY24, down 15.7% from $144.2 bn in FY23. India. The decline was largely due to lower unit values of both crude and LNG. However, the import dependence of crude oil soared to 87.7% in FY24, up from 87.4% a year ago as the domestic crude oil production was almost unchanged at 29.4 MT while consumption went up. Petroleum imports as a percentage of India’s gross imports (in value terms) stood at 25.1%, down from 28.2% in FY23. Against the consumption of 233.3 MT, petroleum product production was 276.1 MT in FY24, the rest being exported. However, India also spent $23.4 bn on the import of 48.1 MT of petroleum products like LPG, while exporting 62.2 MT of products for $47.4 bn. 
  • Concerning the sources of Indian crude, supplies from Russia remained at the top during the year 2023-24. According to energy cargo tracker Vortexa, the share of Russian oil in India’s total imports rose to 35% from 23% in FY23. During the year, all other key suppliers, including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the US lost share in the Indian market. Iraq’s share fell to 20% (from 21%). Similar drops were noted for Saudi Arabia (15% from 17.5%), UAE (6% from 9%), and the US (3.5% from 5.5%). In absolute terms, Russia supplied 1.57 mbpd in FY24, up from 1 mbpd in FY23. Iraq supplied 0.89 mbpd and Saudi Arabia 0.69 mbpd. In April, Russia increased its share in Indian crude oil imports to nearly 40% totalling 1.78 mbpd. Thus, during April, Russia supplied more oil to India than its next three top suppliers, viz. Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the UAE put together. India’s overall crude imports, however, dropped 8% month-on-month to 4.5 mb/d in April. Imports from Iraq, the second-largest supplier, dropped 31% to 776,000 bpd while the supply from Saudi Arabia fell 6% to 681,000 bpd. The UAE’s exports to India fell by 40% while those from the US reduced by 15%. The rise in imports from Russia was despite its price discount narrowing to about $2-3 per barrel on a delivered-at-port basis, the preferred mode of Russian crude purchase by Indian refiners. Indian private sector refiners – Reliance Industries and Nayara Energy – accounted for 45% of all Russian crude imports in April. Nayara Energy is partly owned by Russian energy giant Rosneft.
  • Against this hydrocarbon backdrop for the country, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri H.S. Puri talked with OPEC Secretary General Haitham al-Ghais on April 19 about recent trends and volatility in the global oil market.
  • The share of India’s state companies in oil and gas production from overseas fields increased to 19.9 MMT of oil equivalent (MMTOE) in FY24 from 19.5 MMTOE in the previous year. These upstream assets are located in Russia, UAE, Azerbaijan and South Sudan. The giant gas field in Mozambique, where ONGC, BPCL and Oil India have invested, is stuck due to the poor law and order situation.
  • On April 14, an official spokesman expressed concern about the evolving situation concerning Iranian missile and drone attacks on Israel and called for an “immediate de-escalation, exercise of restraint, and stepping back from violence and return to the path of diplomacy.” Earlier, on April 12, the Ministry of External Affairs had advised Indians against travelling to either Israel or Iran until further notice given the “prevailing situation in the region”. It also added that Indians in the two countries should observe “utmost precautions about their safety and restrict their movements to the minimum”.
  • Media reports during the month indicated that India and Oman were negotiating a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Comment: India and Oman currently have an annual trade of around $13 bn, but the relationship is important for New Delhi as Oman is physically the closest to India and is regarded as the gateway to the Gulf. 
  • The fifth meeting of the Director Generals Indian Coast Guard and the Royal Omani Police Coast Guards was held in New Delhi on April 21.
  • Indian Naval presence in the western Indian Ocean helped in rescuing the crew members of Panama-registered MV Andromeda Star oil tanker following the Houthi missile attack on April 27. 22 of the 30 crew members rescued were Indians. 
  • On April 13, Iran took possession of oil tanker MV Aries in the Strait of Hormuz. India approached Iran to set free 17 of the 25 crew members who were Indians.
  • On April 13, Hindustan Shipyard terminated an agreement for technical collaboration with Turkey’s TAIS consortium signed in 2020 to construct the fleet of five support ships for the Indian Navy. HSL will now execute the construction on its own. The project is estimated to cost between $1.5 bn and $2 bn.
  • In its biggest acquisition deal in India, Bahrain’s Investcorp acquired the National Stock Exchange’s Digital Technical Services for Rs 10 bn ($120 mn) on April 29. 
  • Parents and daughter of Namisha Priya, a Malayali nurse on death row in Houthi-controlled Sanaa jail since 2017 for killing her Yemeni business partner, finally reached there on April 23. They are attempting to get her released after payment of the Dhiyah (blood money) to the family of the victim.







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