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Persian Gulf's Role Vital as Ever in Safeguarding Shipping Routes for West Asia

© Photo : Indian Navy INS Vikrant
 INS Vikrant  - Sputnik India, 1920, 15.04.2024
Trade through the vital Strait of Hormuz will inevitably suffer if the conflict in the Persian Gulf escalates into full-scale war. If tensions remain contained, trade disruptions may be less severe, although they will still have an impact according to experts.
The global maritime sector faces increasingly difficult times amid rising tensions in the Middle East, leading to disruptions in supply chains and heightened risks of blockages in shipping routes.
Following Israel's attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1, which claimed the lives of seven elite military officers, including two generals, Iran retaliated by launching 330 missiles and drones towards Israel on Saturday night.
Concerns are high over the possibility of a shutdown in the Persian Gulf, though some remain optimistic about easing the intense tensions in the region.

India's Vigilance in Safeguarding Shipping Routes

“The Persian Gulf's significance as a vital waterway in West Asia, connecting to the Gulf of Oman through the strategically crucial Strait of Hormuz," retired Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, a Distinguished Fellow at the United Service Institution of India, told Sputnik India. "In this region, there's a pattern of Iran selectively targeting ships of vessels such as MSC Aries, linked to Israel. This trend will persist until a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though [it is] unlikely [to be] soon.”

“India needs to be vigilant to safeguard critical commodities and ensure uninterrupted shipping routes, while also protecting Indian vessels from potential targeting," Chawla stressed. "Since India maintains neutrality between Western and Eastern blocs, intelligence sharing will persist, facilitating tacit collaboration to safeguard assets.”

“However, direct involvement in conflicts is not India's policy, as it prioritizes national interests and diplomacy. The Indian Navy will be deployed to safeguard these interests and navigate diplomatic channels to ensure the safety of shipping lanes" the admiral noted.

Chawla highlighted that “the Indian Navy will maintain its role in escorting large cargo ships, a duty it will continue to fulfil— Diplomatic efforts will persist, urging all the parties to refrain from targeting ships.”

But given the complexity of global trade, according to Chawla, “where ships often have multiple owners and diverse destinations, disruptions are inevitable in this truly globalized economy”.

Shared Responsibility in Gulf Security: Navigating Trade Disruptions Amidst Tensions

“The Combined Task Force overseeing Gulf security falls under the Royal Saudi Navy's command, presenting a shared responsibility for all nations involved," retired Captain Sarabjeet Parmar, a Distinguished Fellow at Council for Strategic and Defence Research (CSDR), told Sputnik. "Trade in the Persian Gulf and through the vital Strait of Hormuz will undoubtedly suffer if the conflict escalates into full-scale war.”

But Parmar cautioned that “if tensions remain contained, trade disruptions may be less severe. Nevertheless, with no viable alternative to navigate to the Persian Gulf other than through the Strait of Hormuz, ensuring the strait's openness is crucial. This entails providing naval escorts to protect shipping, focusing on merchant ships rather than extensive military actions.”

“India finds itself walking a tightrope concerning its relations with Israel, navigating through a landscape fraught with terror concerns. However, Iran's leniency towards Indian crews on merchant ships (MSC Aries) offers some relief,” the captain added.

Parmar stressed that “given India's significant contribution of seamen to global maritime trade, following China and Philippines, there's likely to be an impact on Indian sailors in areas affected by tensions”.

“The airspace required for the missiles to traverse lies beyond Iran's jurisdiction. Moreover, many Gulf nations have declared their refusal to allow the US to conduct attacks on Iran from their sovereign territories or airspace. This limitation inherently restrains the scope of the conflict” the expert said.
MSC Aris - Sputnik India, 1920, 15.04.2024
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