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Friday, January 27, 2023

Political and economic implications of Indian Ocean

Apart from India and China, the six GCC countries located on the coast of the Persian Gulf on the border of the Indian Ocean also make an important contribution to world politics and the economy. Along the southern Red Sea coast, near the Horn of Africa, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are constructing military bases. The region is also important to the US, France, and Russia. So no one wants a power vacuum to be created here.

Although it is the third largest in the world by area, the Indian Ocean is very important from an economic and political point of view. The importance of the ocean continues to grow for geopolitical reasons. The Indian Ocean is bounded by the Indian subcontinent to the north; Antarctica to the south; the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia’s Sunda Islands, and Australia to the east; and the Arabian Peninsula and Africa to the west. The ocean borders 12 countries in Asia and 15 in Africa. Most of the countries are more relevant in world politics, and the chemistry between them is constantly affecting world politics.

Four important seas in the world are the Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Bay of Bengal, and Andaman Sea are located in the Indian Ocean. Besides, the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf are located in the Indian Ocean. Important rivers include the Zambezi River, the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, the Shatt al-Arab, the Indus River, the Ganges River, the Brahmaputra River, and the Irrawaddy River. The Straits of Malacca, the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb in the Gulf of Aden, and the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf continue to play an important role in world trade.

Around 40% of the world’s oil supply is transported through the Strait of Hormuz, 35% through the Strait of Malacca, and 8% through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. About 40% of the world’s offshore petroleum and 60% of oil reserves are located here. It also contains 35% gas, 40% gold, 60% uranium, and 80% diamond. So it is with good reason that the role of the Indian Ocean in the world’s economy and politics is immense.

India, a country on the coast of the Indian Ocean, is an emerging power in the world economy. As the size of the Indian economy is growing day by day, the country is moving towards becoming a regional superpower. And this is why India is in conflict with China, another world superpower and India’s neighbor. These two superpowers are now busy with expanding their spheres of influence in the Indian Ocean. Both countries are building military bases and deploying warships one after another in the Indian Ocean. In an effort to keep the other nations bordering the Indian Ocean within their sphere of influence, India and China are preparing a variety of financial (credit) facilities.

There is a saying in international politics: “Who rules the sea, rules the world,” because almost 90 percent of world trade is by sea. Alfred Thayer, a famous naval strategist of the 19th century, said in his book titled “The Interest of America in Sea Power,” “Be it sea trade or naval power, the control of the sea can control the world.” Because no matter how much wealth there is on land, it is so easy to trade or exchange it by sea, but it is not so easy in other ways. He said, “If a country wants to be a superpower in the world, then it has to dominate the surrounding waters.” China is the world’s second-largest economy. China now wants to become a world superpower.

Therefore, it is for good reason that China will want to expand its absolute dominance in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. Through the Malacca Strait, the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Sea, China imports gas and oil from the Middle East to its eastern region. In order to maintain the security of its oil supply lines, China is steadily expanding its footprint in the Indian Ocean. For that purpose, China has built seaports in Djibouti, Mombasa in Kenya, Gwadar in Pakistan, Hambantota in Sri Lanka, and Koyuppu in Myanmar. A $46 billion economic corridor has been built from Pakistan’s Gwadar port to Kashgar in western China. In that case, the Strait of Malacca will not be needed to transport imported oil from the Middle East. Through the Persian Gulf’s Strait of Hormuz, the port of Gwadar will be the direct route for imported products to get to East Asia.

While China is undertaking significant infrastructure projects in the region surrounding the Indian Ocean, India is also expanding. India keeps working to strengthen ties with minor nations along the ocean’s coastlines. India and Singapore, a country in Southeast Asia, have inked a contract allowing India to utilize Singapore’s ports for military reasons. India has received permission to use the Duqm port, located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf country of Oman. Moreover, India is fostering closer ties with the island nations of Sicily and Mauritius.

Apart from India and China, the six GCC countries located on the coast of the Persian Gulf on the border of the Indian Ocean also make an important contribution to world politics and the economy. Along the southern Red Sea coast, near the Horn of Africa, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are constructing military bases. The region is also important to the US, France, and Russia. So no one wants a power vacuum to be created here.

Many significant nations, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Egypt, Qatar, and others, have interests in the Indian Ocean. Therefore, it stands to reason that in the near future, the Indian Ocean will serve as the primary focal point for world affairs. Warships will agitate the Indian Ocean’s azure waves.

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The writer is a student, Patuakhali Science and Technology University

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