If Qatar faces a threat, India will send troops to the Gulf state. That’s the sum and substance of the defence cooperation and security agreement signed between the two countries during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to Doha.
The PM called it "a landmark agreement", pointing out that Qatar was the only Gulf country to have such an agreement with India. There is, however, no plan to station troops there.
“Qatar has huge financial assets — gas fields, petroleum reserves — and it needs to protect them. We’ll assist them in case there is a threat to its key assets," an official, who didn’t wish to be identified, said.
“The greatest threat to the Gulf countries is from al Qaeda. If al Qaeda manages to penetrate these countries, it would completely destabilise their oil industry," Maj Gen (retd.) Ashok K Mehta said.
He said the agreement would be beneficial to India. "We import bulk of our oil and energy from the Gulf. Indians make the largest group of expats there; their remittance is to the tune of $4-5 billion.”
“We should have all possible cooperation with any Gulf country which can provide us an assured supply of oil and gas. Moreover, oil is something which we urgently require as nuclear power will take time to mature,” said Gen (retd) Raj Kadian.
The agreement, signed on November 9, paves the way for joint maritime security, sharing intelligence on terror threats, joint patrolling of the seas, naval exercises and personnel training.