Presence of Erf in Arabian Sea
“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”. 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. 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.
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). Countries having abundance of oil, more popularly known as black gold, exists in Arabian Sea, an indentation of Indian Ocean. Many littorals are notorious for political instability and various other issues of great concern to major world powers.
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Persian Gulf has been so dear to US that President Nixon often described it as an American lake.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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. The world has already witnessed three famous oil shocks, during 1970 Afghanistan invasion by USSR, 1973 Arab oil embargo and 1979/80 Iran revolution. 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. As a result, usually more then 50 foreign naval ships are always present in the region at any given time. 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. CHAPTER II 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. 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 of the total trade is conducted among the countries of the region and while 80% of the trade is extra regional (mainly crude oil to USA, Europe, China and Japan). Arabian Sea is a northern indentation of Indian Ocean, containing few of the world? s busiest waterways for commercial exchange of capital, commodities, goods and most importantly energy resources. Littorals of Arabian Sea in the Persian Gulf region are blessed with huge quantities of critical energy supplies. Fig 1: Proven Crude Oil Reserves Developed world economies are most vulnerable to any shortage or disruption in the smooth flow of cheap oil esulting in price fluctuation, which could have devastating effects on their economies. The Persian Gulf contains more than 700 billion barrels of the proven oil reserves, which are almost over half of the proven reserves whole world. Europe imports average of 2. 6 million barrels per day while US imports another 2. 5 million barrels per day from the Gulf region. Fig 2: Net Oil Imports From Persian Gulf as a Percentage of Total Net Oil Imports Several littoral states of Arabian Sea are unstable due to religious, political and ethnic divide.
Most of these are Muslim states, which are also controlling extremely sensitive choke points transited regularly by tankers carrying oil supplies. Thus adding to worries of western states regarding security of energy supplies. Similarly, as demands for raw materials are growing and resources shortages are expected, the growing economies are more concerned for security of supplies through any means. The Arabian Sea is also unique in another respect where it holds two neighboring nuclear states, Pakistan and India, with host of unresolved disputes between them, which has often led to wars in the past as well.
On the other hand, Iran, a major regional country designated as so-called evil state by US and is in pursuit of nuclear technology with other Gulf countries having ambitions to acquire the same. The region also contains elements of political, ideological, economic, religious and military based insecurity. The region has in its close proximity, Afghanistan, a breeding ground for terrorist and hub of Al-Quaida activities, Central Asian Region (CAR) the future hope of energy for the world.
Choke Points – Arabian Sea The Arabian Sea waterways are most vulnerable at three very important choke points, Strait of Hormuz, Bab al-Mandab and Suez Canal, from which almost all the oil exports passes. Being sensitive to source of oil from the region, major powers in the world has to be concerned with developments taking place in the Arabian Sea. About 40 percent of the world’s oil supply is transported through Hormuz alone, the only shipping channel in and out of the Persian Gulf. The strait is 17 miles wide at its most narrow point and 120 miles long.
Its inbound and outbound channels are each 2 miles across. The U-shaped strait is bordered to the south by Oman, an ally of the United States, and to the north by Iran, which President Bush has included in the “axis of evil”. Fig 3: Choke Points – Arabian Sea The threat from submarines and mines has long been a concern to the American Navy in this choke point. On the other hand, the Suez Canal being controlled by a single, stable nation, Egypt, whose economy depends heavily on tolls collected through canal, have strong ties to the West and is considered more secure than other choke points.
By contrast, Yemen, near Bab al Mandab, has been a refuge for Al-Quaida terrorist cells and is seen as poorly equipped to guard its waterways. Pakistan’s Geo-Strategic Location and SLOCs of Arabian Sea Pakistan is situated at a geographic location that can play a very important role in Arabian Sea. With Pakistan? s western sea boundaries very close to Strait of Hormuz, and SLOCs for India, Far East Asia, China and Japan passing through her EEZ, it can have considerable influence in the security of smooth flow of oil supplies from Gulf and commercial commodities to Gulf.
Similarly, Pakistan is also ideally located to provide warm water access to CAR for exploiting their mineral potentials by exporting it to markets all over the world. Thus can act a bridge between CAR and rest of the world. Fig 4: Oil Trade Routes China is also looking for exploiting the access to Gulf through Pakistan using Silk Road. Pakistan with its recent status of Major Non NATO Ally to US is also ideally situated for providing access to US in approaching CAR oil reserves through proposed oil pipe line from CAR till Arabian Sea in order to diversify sources for US oil imports and GWOT.
CHAPTER III INTERESTS OF LITTORAL STATES Countries with several unique problems of their own surround Arabian Sea. It is a fact that although western countries have overwhelming interest in the energy resources of the region, consisting of majority of Muslim states that don not like them. Ensuring a smooth oil supply has become a matter of “national security” for western world, particularly the US. In the recent past, due to US led GWOT, issues of nuclear proliferation, anti-Israel sentiments and political instability the region has gained considerable importance.
Along with the interests of external stakeholders, the littoral states have interests of their own, which are quite unique in nature. The paper will only discuss the interest of major internal stakeholders. Pakistan Pakistan is major Muslim State in the region, enjoying respects of other Muslim States, as it is considered as bulwark of Islam against its worldwide enemies. Pakistan also regards the Arabian Sea as increasingly central to its security, a vulnerability exposed during US Tomahawk strike on Afghanistan. Oil and its by-products is perhaps the most critical strategic commodity for Pakistan? survival. Thus, Pakistan? s principle interest in the region is to ensure that its trade flows uninterrupted and is free of all kind of threats. At present, a US led coalition is vigorously pursuing GWOT with a real focus on this region. Pakistan being aware of the far-reaching changes taking place in the region in its area of interest joined GWOT. Thus, in the wake of 9/11 and given the political environment in Balouchistan, Pakistan earnestly desires to keep Makran Coast free of activities that may support terrorism.
Active participation by PN in CMCP is a step in that direction. US led war on terrorism in Afghanistan, heavily dependent on support from Pakistan, is also causing troubles for internal stability of the country. Due to US involvement, Northern Alliance has come to power in Afghanistan, a hostile government for Pakistan. India has already opened six consulates in Afghanistan. Presence of NATO on doorstep also has long-term strategic effects on Pakistan. Consequently, for the first time in history, Pakistan deployed its troops in FATA and along the border of Afghanistan.
A hostile government in Afghanistan expose the vulnerability of Pakistan that it has due to absence of strategic depth. US have always viewed possession of nuclear weapons by Pakistan with concern. As US struggle against WMD provides a justification to US for preemptive strike, therefore, US presence in the region, so close to Pakistani borders is of considerable concern. A major strength possessed by Pakistan vis-a-vis India is its geographic location in Southeast Asia, near the Persian Gulf and CAR and astride the Indian Ocean sea-lanes.
With the development of Gwadar port, right at the mouth of Strait of Hormuz, Pakistan is also a leading option for CAR to have access to Arabian Sea for export of their raw materials to western markets at much cheaper rates as compared to other alternatives, a key impediment to India ever attaining clear regional dominance in South Asia. Fig 5: Potential Cross-Border Gas Pipelines India India considers area between Malacca and Hormuz Straits as its legitimate area of interest and have ambitious plans to dominate the region.
Indian goal of having a three fleet blue water navy to guard its vast sea frontiers is closely matched by an ambition of having a sea based second-strike capability. Most recent important steps taken by New Delhi are its increasing interest in acquiring forward bases for its navy in Indian Ocean. In 1954, India transferred control of Coco Island to Burma, while recently India has not only developed Andaman and Nicobar Island but is actively collaborating with Iran to establish a port at Chahbahar. India? s growing interest in the region is also security of its oil supplies.
With its rapid economic boom, India is dependent on cheap oil supplies from Gulf like never before. At present India is 7th largest consumer of primary energy in the world. However, its crude production share was 60% in 1988/89, 34% in 1998/99 and will be 10% in 2030. Therefore, country? s import dependence will increase to 94% in 2030. India does not consider presence of US in the region as a threat but rather a source of comfort. Especially after developing strategic ties with US, India feels that their interests in the region are common as that of US.
Therefore, security issues for both are also interlinked. Also, after acquiring of reckonable sea power by India, other powers now understands that trade will not cross IO against a hostile Indian Navy. Iran Iran seemingly aims to contest US presence in the region. Tehran? s effort to develop nuclear deterrence points in this direction. While being the third largest oil producing country, preserving its trade security is of paramount interest to Iran. Similarly, Iran also has the desire to influence Gulf region and is developing its navy to thwart any attempts by any aggression against its interests.
Iran has so far witnessed strained relations with other Gulf States but is on a path of improvement. Iran also ahs the desire to provide a cheap route to CAR for their exports through Arabian Sea but its attempts has so not been successful owing to US in Afghanistan. By virtue of being the guardian of Strait of Hormuz, controversial presence of Iran in Abu Musa Island is of extreme strategic importance. With its significant arsenal of shore launched anti ship missiles, Iran can disrupt the smooth flow of traffic in the Strait of Hormuz during a conflict with an external power, an ability amply highlighted during Iran-Iraq war.
However, recently, Iran has been strongly advocating regional cooperation and can act as a bridge between Gulf – Indian Ocean region and CAR. Gulf States Gulf counties are of great significance in the region due to large energy reserves they possess to feed developed economies. Frightened by the challenge posed by the Iranian Revolution, the six Gulf States – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the UAE – decided to form Gulf Cooperation Council in May 1981, which was viewed by Iran as an antiIranian Arab club, as it was an Arab and not a cross-cultural regional entity.
However, Iran avoided dealing with the GCC as an entity, preferring to ignore its existence and to treat each country separately. While Kuwait openly embraces US security assistance and presence in the region, the UAE is the most cautious in its policies towards the US and the presence of US forces in the Gulf. A major reason for this cautionary position is that the UAE is Irancentric as much as Kuwait is Iraq centric. A complicating factor is that while federal leadership of UAE view Iran as a major threat to UAE, Dubai looks at it as a major commercial customer.
Between 1991 and 1994, all GCC States, with the sole exception of Saudi Arabia, signed security agreements with the US. These included joint exercises, access to ports and facilities, and pre-positioning of equipment. Almost entire economy of Gulf States is related to energy reserves, security of which they cannot ensure. The Gulf states are primarily concerned about the security of their oil fields as they know that SLOCs will be kept open by western powers, more dominatingly US, in order to safeguard their own interest.
However, with changing geopolitical situation, US is no longer comfortable with its relations with Gulf States. Differences are growing between US and Saudi Arabia, a linchpin of GCC, over several issues. The situation has deteriorated to a level where a top Pentagon advisory board has declared Saudi Arabia as an enemy of US. Fig 6: CHAPTER IV States – Part of GCC INTERESTS OF EXTRA REGIONAL STATES Extra Regional States are mainly concerned with Arabian Sea for ensuring security of their energy supplies, which in turn means, the availability of energy at all times in various forms, in sufficient quantity and at affordable process.
A policy discontinuity by OPEC and long-term failure to invest in production, transportation or processing capacity may have devastating effects on energy security from the region. To secure oil from Gulf, US President Regan once said, “US must maintain maritime supremacy in area”. It was threat to oil supplies that resulted in creation of Rapid Development Force by US President Carter. The same was major motivation for military action against Iraq in 1991
The region is infested with multiple problems ranging from sectarian violence, human smuggling, terrorism and political instability. US also view the leadership of the region as “politically immature, diplomatically inexperienced and ideologically unreliable”. Saudi and Gulf citizens are also very sceptical that Gulf security depends on an alliance with west that will contain Iraq and Iran as well. At present Gulf region provides 1/5th of the 11 million barrels of oil to US per day. Due to depletion of oil sources outside Gulf, by 2020 OPEC share is expected to reach 60% of world share.
Thus increasing the dependence of US on the region even further. Therefore, US always fear that radical Muslims may stop oil supplies to “western infidels” as and when required. No country can have military presence, power projection capabilities or technology as US to protect resources of energy not only from Saudi Arabia but the ME as a whole and deny hostile states the ability to attack or blackmail exporting states. The importance of oil for survival of US can be gauged with the simple fact that a US 10$ rise in the prices per barrel will cause a damage amounting to US 50$ billions to its economy.
The US, in control of the crucial oil resources in Iraq can easily use oil as a strategic lever vis-a-vis other countries such as China, as a continuation of its “Containment Policy” of China. To achieve this crucial objective, US has spent a considerable amount of money and will therefore, utilise all means to gain profits from the region. Political Interests The US is focusing on two vital interests in the Middle East; first, the security of Israel, second protection of oil supplies to western allies and US.
The security of Israel is clearly demonstrated during Arab-Israel wars, where US has provided unconditional, unlimited and unjustified support for Israel, using double standards. The US western allies see US with drawl, being guarantor of the safety of oil transport shipping routes, as a major risk to security of their oil supplies. US military presence in the Arabian Sea in general and specifically in the Gulf also serves a number of other US strategic national security goals, which are: a.
The security of oil supplies and reserves that exist within the territories controlled by Arab countries in the Gulf and the transit security of these supplies through the Gulf and other sea routes that are considered to be strategic choke points, e. g. the Suez Canal. b. The post-war shaping of a US-friendly Iraq. c. The containment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, China and potential future “regime change” actions in the region of ME. d. Support to the ongoing anti-terrorism campaign in and Afghanistan including stability of regime. e.
Mutual support to the expanding US strategic presence in the oil rich region of the Caspian Sea and in CAR. f. g. h. Security of Israel against any type of threat. Nuclear proliferation in the region including elimination of WMD. Human smuggling and drug trafficking. Military Interests To support the security strategy for the Gulf, configured on “forward military presence”, to deter aggression and “crises response” in case deterrence fails, the US has deployed military assets off shore and on shore in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the UAE.
In contrast to the pre-Gulf war period when forward presence was kept at low key in the form of “over the horizon” military presence in deference to the political and cultural sensitivities of the conservative Gulf States, US military presence today is far more visible, substantial and controversial. A high visibility posture of US military personnel in the region is a sensitive matter to the majority conservative Muslim population. The public in Gulf, as in the rest of region, is fundamentally opposed to US policies in the region and regards them as antiMuslim. US unwanted presence is also view with hostility by Afghans.
The present government formed under the umbrella of US is not consisting of justified representation according to population due to US interest. Now, if US leave, Afghanistan will surely face another civil war. CHINA “Let china sleep, for when the dragon awakes, the world will tremble”. Napoleon Bonaparte Economic Interests China? s economic development has been the top priority on Beijing? s national agenda since the late 1970s and will be the driving force behind its strategy toward the Arabian Sea in general and Persian Gulf region in particular, in the years ahead.
The economic growth of the past two decades has spurred China? s growing demand for energy resources and China has emerged as a competitor to US in race for energy. In 1990, China exported oil worth $2. 8 Billions to Japan and now half of China? s own oil need is met by imports from Gulf. In response to dwindling domestic supply, China has turned to the Persian Gulf to satisfy the nation? s economic needs. As a result, energy security has become a central component of its national security. At the same time, China? economic success has augmented its “comprehensive national power,” which in Chinese strategic thinking encompasses a broad range of economic, political, diplomatic, and military capabilities. Beijing has slowly maximized these hard-earned assets to exert its influence in the Gulf region. By 2020, China will be importing 60% oil and 30% gas from external sources making her economy severely dependant on energy supply region? s security. Given China? s longstanding insistence on self-reliance, the growing proportion of foreign-supplied oil, particularly from the Persian Gulf, triggers acute anxieties.
China feels uncomfortable as tankers bringing oil for her travel through SLOCs dominated by external forces, especially US. Political Interests Following the footsteps of USA, China is also expanding its base for imports of crucial oil supplies. To counter US containment policy, China is also looking forward to diversifying its energy sources all over the world. Chinese National Petroleum Company (CNPC) was ordered by government to buy 60% shares of Kazakhstan? s 3rd largest oil field and China also wishes to have 1250 miles long pipeline for oil and gas supplies till province of Xinjiang.
CNCP has also spent $8 Billions in 1998/99 for having concessions in Sudan, Venezuela, Iraq and Kazakhstan. Presently, China is in process of striking important deals with Middle East countries. It has already signed a “Strategic Oil Partnership” with Saudi Arabia. America? s unrivalled influence and substantial military presence in the Middle East represent a two-edged sword for China? s energy security. On the one hand, China benefits from the stability that U. S. military forces bring to the region without incurring any costs.
On the other hand, Beijing fears that it could be held hostage to American threats to deny China? s access to oil during confrontations with the United States over other disputes. With the rise of Chinese nationalism, the notion that the supply of oil could be subject to Washington? s goodwill irritate Beijing and adds to its insecurity. However, the practicality of an oil embargo is highly questionable. Cutting off oil supplies to a major power would be politically difficult to justify to the international community.
China is also devising a plan to ensure its energy security for the future and reduce dependence on this volatile region. Salient of plane are: a. b. c. d. Maximising the domestic output of oil and gas. Diversity of sources. Invest in overseas oil and gas companies of Asia and ME. Construct infrastructure to bring oil and gas to own markets safely. Military Interests Despite all these measures, presently China could only continue to adjust to US power projection till the time it has developed a reasonable retaliatory capability.
The Chinese interest in the region is also because of ever increasing influence of India in the regional affairs. The newly struck deals between US and India for future strategic partnership in the region also concerns China, having stakes in the region. The Chinese attempts to acquire bases in Indian Ocean is an indicator of the same. Pakistan is a trusted ally of China and with Gwadar port becoming a reality, China will a much direct access to Arabian Sea instead of a long sea route passing from the regions dominated by US and Indian naval presence.
China is also attempting to have some share for selling its military hardware to oil rich gulf states, presently dominated by western powers. Although at present the ingress of Chinese military hardware is negligible except for Iran, the same may change in future with Chinese technology advancing at a rapid pace. EUROPE UNION Economic Interests Europe depends heavily on oil imports from the Gulf, notwithstanding its efforts to diversify sources of energy supplies from North Africa, Russia, and the Atlantic Basin. Indeed, the European market consumes most of Iran? oil and gas exports, and the same will be true for Iraqi energy exports once it is able to shed sanctions that have prevented the reconstruction of its heavily damaged oil infrastructure. Moreover, European dependence on Gulf energy supplies is likely to grow substantially over the next 10 to 15 years; particularly as North Sea oil and gas resources are depleted. Fig 7: Gap Between Supply and Demand of Oil Closely related to European energy imports from the Gulf is two-way trade between Europe and the region.
Presently, neither Iraq nor Iran is a lucrative market for European goods, services and capital. Also, the European Union (EU) initiative to cultivate stronger economic relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states has yet to yield substantial dividends. Nonetheless, several European countries, notably the United Kingdom, France and Germany, are captivated by the long-term market potential this region. In 2004 the EU exports to the GCC were around 40 billion pounds whereas its imports from the region were 25 billions pounds, thus providing a direct benefit of 15 billions pound in a single year.
Political Interests The United States and Europe share a number of common goals and interests in the region. These include securing access to Persian Gulf oil supplies at reasonable prices; preventing the spread of terrorism and WMD; and fostering peace, stability and prosperity. Nonetheless, over the years some of the most acute tensions in the transatlantic relationship have stemmed from US and European disagreements in the Persian Gulf, especially over the most effective policies to achieve these goals.
The most contentious disputes have revolved around the American use of military force and the imposition of sanctions to moderate the behaviour of Iraq and Iran. These differences are likely to persist, given the high stakes involved and the political, diplomatic and economic investments of both the US and Europe in the region. Military Interests European military interests in the region are mainly restricted to arms supplies. Huge European arms industry is in dire need of a lucrative market which can absorb relatively expansive European arms and that too in huge quantities.
Although China is also trying to capture this market with its cheap weaponry but despite financial appeal, they do not provide level of sophistication that many Gulf States have come to expect. Pakistan has also been interested in western weapon systems since long and possesses quite a large number of sophisticated systems. Pakistan Navy in particular has been dependent upon western countries for smooth functioning of its fleet. However, due to a bitter experience after US sponsored sanctions, Pakistan Navy has also struck deals with China for surface ships and helos.
More recently, India has also shifted its long-standing loyalty with Russian weapon systems and is now in active collaboration with western arms industry for several of its future projects. PN and Presence of ERF in the Region Pakistan cannot afford to neglect its maritime effectiveness. For sustainable maritime growth, there is a need to address military and non-military threats to Pakistan’s maritime security. Present trends, changes and geopolitical situation imply that all challenges to Pakistan’s maritime interests should be dealt accordingly.
Defending Pakistan’s maritime interests and safeguarding its ports and harbours have placed an enormous burden on the PN. In order to meet future maritime security challenges of Pakistan the role of the PN needed to be enhanced in a way that it should be able to serve the strategy of ‘defensive – offence’. Pakistan should modernise its Navy and be forward-looking in its vision. Pakistan should have a naval power commensurate with its role not only to defend its coast, but also act as a deterrent to any power intending to interfere and obstruct the flow of oil or gas or obstruct movement in the region.
PN will, therefore, be required to provide escorts to friendly shipping carrying strategic commodities. This primarily is defensive role but nonetheless of a strategic value for the country. Compulsion of maintaining continuous presence in CMCP, essential in order to avoid over anxiety regarding ERF operations in Pakistani waters, is also taking a heavy toll on an already averaged PN fleet. Therefore, Pakistan must immediately enhance PN surface fleet capabilities in order to meet the future challenges efficiently and effectively.
Failing to participate in CMCP and meeting the goals set by ERF in Arabian Sea in general and along the coastal belt of Pakistan in particular may compel US in inviting India for CMCP or worst case to ensure continuation of ERF agenda through its naval presence in the region. Indian Navy operating off Pakistani coast has self-evident implications for PN resulting again in maintaining a very comprehensive presence in the area in order to check Indian Naval activities. Being part of an international collation and having chance to operate with modern navies is also benefiting PN in several ways.
Few of the important aspects in this regard are as follows: a. Intelligence sharing with US network. b. Sharing of recce/surveillance information. c. Maritime Interdiction Operations. d. Leadership Interdiction Operations against terrorist organisations. e. Doctrinal revision. f. Enhanced operational availability of PN units. g. Increased interaction with modern navies. h. Confidence to own mariners in international and Pakistani waters. j. Acknowledgement of PN professionalism. k. Material gains in the form of military support. l. Improving the image of PN w. r. its capability to ensure security in the region. CHAPTER VI CONCLUSION The concept of ‘maritime security’ broadly revolves around political, economic, technological, environmental and military and non-military elements. Any threat to these elements poses a threat to the maritime interests of a particular nation. This growing economic dependence on sea and benefits of EEZ requires construction of a whole new set of modern infrastructure of ports, harbours, shipbuilding, offshore platforms, and advanced naval strength, which may not be possible for a smaller nation despite having adequate finances.
Security of trade is of immense value for survival of all countries in Arabian Sea region. While major countries may see presence of ERF as a hindrance to freedom of operation by their navies in their legitimate area of interest, the freedom of navigation provided by ERF presence to all friendly shipping is viewed as a very positive step by smaller regional states. While several countries in the region are opposed to US policies, it is a fact that the overwhelming majority of them also oppose terrorism and the kind of political vision and government style as proposed and practised by Bin Laden and the Taliban.
For as long as Gulf oil remains vital to the interests of the US and its allies, heavy presence of ERF in the region is to be expected. Sharing major maritime oil and gas fields with littoral Gulf States means that Iran and the Arab world have potential friction points. US military presence, especially naval and air force capabilities, in several of the Gulf countries is a critical check to Iranian ambitions and possible adventurism. In other words, there is no realistic end in the foreseeable future to US military engagement in the region.
The vital interest the US has in the region, the desire of Gulf States to retain US military presence and the inability of Japan and European powers that depend on ME oil to project power for a long haul means that US will be the main player providing protection to all allies in future. Dream of having a NATO type organisation to ensure security interests of member countries in the region is still a long haul dream. Awareness is growing among the regional countries regarding the importance of an organisation like an Indian Ocean Regional Forum or a „Security Alliance for the Indian Ocean?.
Headway is only possible through gradual evolution of trust and confidence among the stakeholders after the internal disputes are settled. (Word Count: 6210) BIBLIOGRAPHY PRIMARY SOURCES Books Commander Manoj Gupta, ‘Maritime Affairs: Integrated Management for India’, Manas Publications, New Delhi, 2005. Dana Priest, The Mission: Waging War and Keeping the Peace With America? s Military, W. W. Norton & Co, New York, NY 2004. Ian Rutladge, Addicted to Oil, I. B Tauris & Co Ltd, London, 2005.