The day Osama bin Laden's suicide squads unleashed their terrible wrath on the United States, Major-General Uzi Dayan, who in 200l headed Israel's National Security Council and was a key adviser to then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was conducting a "strategic dialogue" in New Delhi with his Indian counterpart, Brajesh Mishra, and other top officials.
Dayan's presence in the Indian capital on 11 September 200l was, of course, pure happenstance. But it underlined how events in the Middle East and Asia are becoming increasingly entwined and how Israel's influence in South and Central Asia is forging ahead by leaps and bounds.
The events of that fateful day cemented a strategic relationship that has never stopped growing from its clandestine beginnings in the 1960s. Since India recognised Israel in 1992, the Jewish state has become one of India's most important defence suppliers, second only to Russia. Over the last decade or so, Israel has sold India weapons systems and military technology worth an estimated $10bn.
Even so, the Israelis are reluctant to discuss this burgeoning relationship. Ephraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv, recently noted: "It's an extremely sensitive issue. With both countries basically facing similar threats of terrorist incursions, I believe the Indians have come to value more than ever their strategic cooperative relationship with Israel because of the weapons, technology and operational experience we offer them."
The alliance may have blossomed with both countries facing the common threat of Islamist terrorism. But over the years, it has expanded into a much more profound relationship, nurtured by the United States. This is changing the geo-strategic landscape in the Middle East and Asia, primarily targeting Iran and China.
The establishment of diplomatic relations was a major breakthrough for Israel, which at the time was shunned by the Third World. India, reluctant to antagonise its large Muslim population (the second largest in the world), had long championed the Palestinian cause. The alliance with Israel marked a major shift in India's foreign policy.
Both countries--one Jewish, the other Hindu--are locked in deadly combat with Islamist extremists. After 26 November 2008, attacks in Mumbai--India's 9/11--which killed 173 people, including five Israelis, security cooperation between the two nations has skyrocketed--literally....