Strategic Importance of the Arabian Sea

Topics: Iraq, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates Pages: 29 (10479 words) Published: October 10, 2011
CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION “Whoever controls the Indian Ocean, dominates Asia. This Ocean is the key to seven seas. In the 21st century, the destiny of the world would be decided on its waters”[1]. Mahan Indian Ocean has played a very important role in the history as well as the fate of its littorals. Due to non-seafaring traditions of these littorals states, the Indian Ocean has always witnessed foreign invaders[2]. While in the past abundance of food along the rivers and minerals were a motivation, present day energy hungry nations has also found the region irresistible but perhaps in a different way than ancient invaders[3]. Lord George Nathaniel Curzon, viceroy of India in 1898 predicted that future great game would be played in Middle East (ME) and Central Asian Region (CAR)[4]. Countries having abundance of oil, more popularly known as black gold, exists in Arabian Sea, an indentation of Indian Ocean[5]. Many littorals are notorious for political instability and various other issues of great concern to major world powers[6]. Persian Gulf has been so dear to US that President Nixon often described it as an American lake[7]. When British forces left Gulf in 1968, a vacuum was created in understanding the political system of Gulf countries and to utilise the historical knowledge efficiently[8]. Concerned that Soviet, who already had some influence in the region, would expand their circle of influence to warm waters ports and huge oil reserves of Gulf, US accepted the fact that Gulf region must be kept friendly to west[9]. Initially even US maintained a

naval presence for the purpose of flag showing only but latter unpredictable events has compelled the US to review its foreign policy in Persian Gulf. This change in policy brought about a change in US naval strategy. The implementation of Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force brought a larger naval presence into the Gulf[10]. In 1980‟s, during Iran – Iraq war, US further increased its naval presence in the area to provide protection to shipping emanating from Gulf. Initially the presence only was considered enough; however, latter the US navy resorted to escorting the ships from ports all the way till out of the Strait of Hormuz. US even reflagged Kuwaiti tankers for providing them naval escorts[11]. US is very well aware of the effects any disturbance in smooth flow of oil can cause for its economy. The fact that it was oil embargo of 1940 and concern for energy security that compelled Japan to attack on pearl harbour is fresh in the memories of US[12]. The world has already witnessed three famous oil shocks, during 1970 Afghanistan invasion by USSR, 1973 Arab oil embargo and 1979/80 Iran revolution[13]. Due to convergence of interests in ensuring security of cheap and affordable oil supply from Gulf, several countries have joined hands with US. It resulted in Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan (CMCP), led by US, consisting of more than 15 countries[14]. As a result, usually more then 50 foreign naval ships are always present in the region at any given time[15]. Such overwhelming presence of US forces is seen in different perspective by regional states. The paper discusses all the facts assuming that US will maintain its presence at least in near future and will devise a mechanism for ensuring energy security for all concerned through involving regional powers. This move by US may have certain very obvious implications for other regional states as no worth while military cooperation other than GCC exists in the region.


STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF ARABIAN SEA Atlantic and Pacific Oceans has witnessed several very formidable military coalitions in recent past. On the other hand, Indian Ocean has not so far developed an overreaching security system that could meet the challenges of maritime security[16]. Indian Ocean is situated between Atlantic and Pacific, thus serving as a natural transit lounge for most of the traffic from and to both these Oceans. Only one fifth...

Bibliography: World Energy Reserves, (cited on 12 Jan 2007), available with World Wide Web @
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