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Order at Sea

  • Published
    30th Dec, 2023

Context:

India must use its good standing with Iran, as well as with Israel, to urge moderation and restraint, lest the West Asian conflagration spreads and sets the Indian Ocean alight.

The Strategic Significance of Navies

  • Alfred Mahan's Wisdom: Alfred Mahan's insight underscores the vital role of navies in safeguarding peaceful shipping. Merchant traffic, crucial for national prosperity, relies on secure global sea routes.
  • Trade Warfare History: Trade warfare, targeting seaborne commerce, historically impacts adversaries profoundly. The 20th century witnessed Germany's submarine campaign, while the Iran-Iraq conflict featured a "tanker war."
  • Choke Points Vulnerability: The Indian Ocean's strategic choke points, including the Malacca Strait, Hormuz Strait, and Bab al Mandab, face threats from state and non-state actors.

The Yemen Crisis and Global Implications

  • Proxy Conflict Dynamics: The Yemen civil war, a Saudi-Iran proxy clash, involves multilateral dimensions with regional countries and organizations participating.
  • Houthi Attacks and Ideological Objectives: The claimed objective is to pressure Israel amid the Gaza conflict. However, challenges arise in ensuring the rebels can differentiate between "Israeli-linked" vessels and others, risking global economic disruption.
  • Global Response and India's Role: India's deployment in the region signals maritime power, emphasizing the need for international cooperation. However, the constraints of jurisdiction and evolving drone warfare tactics pose challenges for maintaining maritime security.

Diplomacy, Security, and India's Role

  • Diplomatic Channels: Amid escalating tensions, India's diplomatic ties with Iran and Israel become pivotal. Leveraging these connections, India must advocate for moderation and restraint in the West Asian conflict to prevent broader implications in the Indian Ocean.
  • Security Challenges and Countermeasures: Security challenges posed by drone warfare demand innovative countermeasures, including soft-kill techniques and kinetic systems. India, as a maritime power, needs to adapt and contribute to global efforts in ensuring maritime security.
  • Preventing Regional Escalation: India's role extends beyond naval presence; it involves proactive diplomacy to prevent the West Asian conflict from engulfing the Indian Ocean.
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