Despite varied resources on Indian foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa region, there remain significant gaps in our understanding of India-North Africa ties. This article explores the relationship using material from Indian foreign policy archives as well as statements from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs apart from news articles.
In the modern day, India’s relations with the North African nations was seen in India supporting democratic reforms and decolonisation, a product of Jawaharlal Nehru’s foreign policy impetus. India’s partnership with Egypt to form the Non-Aligned Movement as well as the presence of the rest of the four North African nations in the movement is proof of it. Moreover, India also supported the independence movements of Tunisia and Algeria, and figures like Nehru were often honoured in Libya for his vision of decolonisation. Presently, North Africa’s importance for India is rooted in several factors.
Firstly, Egypt is a power broker in the Middle East, making North Africa a lucrative target for Indian diplomacy. Egypt’s ties with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) make it an important ally in the Middle East region, where India has been expanding its footprint. Secondly, nations such as Morocco and Algeria become geographical gateways to other parts of Africa. This is especially relevant for India given its desire to penetrate Francophone Africa, a goal that Morocco has largely positioned itself to fulfil. Lastly, North African nations are also important for Europe which provides many opportunities for India to collaborate with the European Union (EU) on issues such as terrorism, migration, and climate change amongst others.