Expected War for Indian Ocean: This year the navies of China, Iran and Russia conducted joint exercises. The US, UK and Australia decided to deploy nuclear submarines near Western Australia. India and Japan have decided to invest $75 billion in the Indo-Pacific region. And amidst all this, China’s activism is increasing from Djibouti to Myanmar’s Coco Islands and Sri Lanka. The center of all these activities is the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean has been important for centuries for its trade routes, but now it seems to be becoming a hotbed of sharp strategic tug-of-war. Any spark here can turn into flames of war.
What is the importance of the Indian Ocean?
The Indian Ocean extends from the southern tip of Africa to the Malacca Strait. The Malacca Strait is between Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. On the other hand, there is the stretch of the Indian Ocean from the Persian Gulf to southwest Australia. It shares maritime borders with 35-36 countries. These are not ordinary countries. About 30 percent of the world’s population lives in these countries and these countries contribute 12 percent to the total GDP of the world.
The most prominent of these are oil and gas. Most of the oil and gas is transported from three important points connected to the Indian Ocean. One of these places is the Strait of Hormuz. The importance of this place in the Persian Gulf is such that 40 percent of the crude oil sent from one place to another by ships in the world passes through the Strait of Hormuz.
The second major point is the Bab al-Mandab Strait. It is located between the Horn of Africa i.e. the Somali Peninsula and the Arabian Peninsula has Eritrea and Djibouti on one side and Yemen on the other. It is the main route leading to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. The Malacca Strait is the third main point in the Indian Ocean in terms of oil and gas trade. It is the main route for ships to move between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. About 20 per cent of the world’s maritime trade passes through the Malacca Strait.
What are the causes of tug-of-war in the Indian Ocean?
If any country or alliance of countries dominates the three major routes of maritime trade in the Indian Ocean, it can hurt others. In recent years, Iran has attacked several ships in the Strait of Hormuz. Its Navy is planning to deploy Camikaji drones in that area. Something similar is happening in the Malacca Strait. About 80 percent of China’s crude oil imports go through the Malacca Strait. Therefore, China continues to face the threat of US interference in this route.
Due to such importance of the Indian Ocean, the major powers of the world have become active here. Apart from India, the US, Australia, China, Britain and France, the navies of countries like Japan and Singapore are patrolling in the Indian OceanN. In March this year, the navies of China, Iran and Russia conducted joint exercises in the Indian Ocean. At the same time, the Chinese Navy, which has leased Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port, is increasing its activity in the Indian Ocean. One of his spy ships reached Sri Lanka despite all the objections of India. The radar of this spy ship had covered cities like Chennai in India and many strategic establishments.
There was a time when the navies of countries like France, Britain and Portugal dominated the Indian Ocean region. France is still active here through its presence in Reunion Island. It also has islands of the Mozambique Channel. At the same time, Britain also keeps patrolling here. It also has an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean region.
What are the US and China doing in the Indian Ocean?
For decades, after focusing on the Pacific Ocean region instead of the Indian Ocean, america’s eyes have also turned towards it. He has increased activity through ‘Freedom of Navigation Exercise’. The United States, along with Australia, India and Japan, has formed the Quad. The purpose of this organization is to stop China’s increasing interference in the Indo-Pacific region. America’s preparation goes even further. Its Navy is preparing its First Fleet once again. It was deactivated about half a century ago, but now there are plans to deploy it in the Indian Ocean.
On the other hand, Australia’s activism in the Indian Ocean region has also increased. The US, Australia and the UK decided to deploy next-generation nuclear submarines near Western Australia. For this, the three countries have signed a security agreement (AUKUS Deal). Under this, nuclear submarines will be deployed near Western Australia. These submarines will be supplied to the US and the UK. The Oxus deal is also aimed at countering China’s activism in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean region.
As far as China’s activism in the Indian Ocean is concerned, it has its own big reason. China imports 80 per cent of its crude oil from the Indian Ocean. About 40 percent of the raw materials used in the industries there also go from this area. Not only this, about 55 percent of the goods exported from China also go through the Indian Oceean. Therefore, he is very cautious and active about the Indian Ocean.
China built a naval base in Djibouti in 2017. Djibouti is home to naval bases in eight countries, including the US, France and Japan. China has been ramping up its activities in Indian Oceaan countries, including Myanmar, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, as part of its strategic strategy. China plans to build a commercial port in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. It is suspected that he may also build a naval base there.
As far as India is concerned, amidst the claims of all the countries, India sees itself as the biggest protector of the Indian Oceans. From Sri Lanka to Maldives, India has proved this through its campaigns. No country’s navy in the northern part of the Indian Ocean is as powerful as India’s. Meanwhile, India has stepped up cooperation with the US in view of China’s growing activism.
Despite so much movement in the Indian Oceans, it is usually rarely seen. The Indo-Pacific region is overshadow by the tension between the US and China, but in that too, mainly the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea areas appear important. But there is also a growing stir in the Indian Oceans. On the one hand, this ocean is very important for trade in the world, on the other hand, India and China are very importantAmerica’s tension has increased. China’s navy today has the highest number of warships in the world. It is estimated that by the year 2030, China will have more warships than the total warships of America and India. America is trying to maintain its old dominance. At the same time, China wants to establish itself as a new superpower. Due to this tension, any spark rising in the Indian Oceans can lead to a major war.