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The Red Sea & complexities of global events

  • Published
    18th Dec, 2023

The Israel-Hamas war has opened a new front in the Red Sea, which will impact Asian economies.


Global Tensions

  • Escalation of Tensions: At the end of October, a bold terror attack by Hamas against Israel disrupted regional stability, drawing the Yemen-based Houthi militia into the conflict.
  • Red Sea's Strategic Significance: The announcement of Houthi involvement brought the critical Red Sea into the heart of the conflict, posing a threat to the Suez Canal, a vital artery for nearly 15% of global trade.
  • Houthi Aggression at Sea: In mid-November, the Houthis raided a cargo vessel with reported Israeli links in the Red Sea, showcasing their military capabilities and escalating tensions.

Global Response

  • S. Military Deployment: The United States has taken a leading role, deploying military assets to counter Houthi threats, including drones, missiles, and direct operations.
  • Multinational Task Force: In response to increasing incidents, the U.S. calls for a multinational task force in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a crucial passage connecting Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea.
  • Saudi Arabia's Dilemma: Despite the on-going conflict with the Houthis in Yemen, Saudi Arabia urges restraint by the U.S., signalling a complex geopolitical landscape.
  • Saudi-Iran Détente: Surprisingly, talks between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi leadership have emerged following a Saudi-Iran detente brokered by China.
  • China's Diplomatic Role: Arab response to the Gaza crisis indicates positive sentiments toward China, particularly due to its balanced stance compared to the unequivocal support given by the U.S. to Israel.

Global Impact on Asian Economies

  • Security Depletion in the Red Sea: The global ramifications of security deterioration in the Red Sea extend to Asian economies such as India, Japan, South Korea, and China.
  • Persian Gulf Dynamics: India, Japan, and South Korea navigate diplomatic channels in dealing with tensions in the Persian Gulf, each having specific interests and concerns.

Mobilizing Global Partners

  • S. Call for Action: Reflecting on past multilateral efforts against piracy, the U.S. calls for partners to mobilize, recognizing the necessity of a collective response.
  • Stakeholders in West Asian Security: India, Japan, and South Korea, as net importers of oil and gas, emerge as stakeholders in West Asian security, underlining their strategic and kinetic interests.
  • Non-State Actors' Growing Influence
  • Shifting Geopolitical Order: As the global geopolitical landscape evolves, the rise of non-state militant actors becomes a crucial factor, often aligned with state interests for short-term gainsand long-term strategic victories.

Way Forward: Red Sea's Security Challenges

  • In an interconnected world facing challenges to the western-led international securityorder, a more progressive and practical approach to power development and deployment is essential to address security challenges beyond self-defined areas of interest.
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