Indian Navy in a threatening Red Sea

Indian Navy in a threatening Red Sea

Context: Here we discuss the importance of shipping trade, why the Indian Ocean is more vulnerable to interventions by state and non-state actors. (In context of recent attacks by Yemen-based Houthi rebels)

Why is shipping trade important?
• It is the cheapest and most efficient method of transporting goods over long distances, forming the bedrock of the global economy. For example, the waters of the Indian Ocean carry 80% of the world’s oil.
• Trade warfare or waging war on seaborne commerce has historically been a favoured strategy to coerce an enemy by striking at the very roots of its security and prosperity.

Why is shipping trade in the Indian Ocean more vulnerable?
• Piracy: The waters near the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean are particularly prone to piracy. Ships, including those from India, are vulnerable to attacks by pirates who seek ransom or engage in illegal activities.
• Illegal Trafficking: Criminal syndicates exploit maritime trade routes along the Indian Ocean to transport illicit goods, such as narcotics, counterfeit products, and protected wildlife.
• Competition Among Great Powers: The Indian Ocean is a critical area for global trade and is subject to the strategic interests of several major powers. This competition can pose challenges to maritime security.
• The Indian Ocean has a number of narrow passages called “choke points”. These restrict shipping traffic into a narrow sea lane, making them vulnerable to interventions by states, pirates and terrorists. The choke points include Malacca Strait, Hormuz Strait and Bab al Mandab Strait.

What are the reasons for the attack?
• Clash between Yemen (Saudi backed) and Houthis rebels (Iran backed) has assumed wider recognition with countries like USA, Jordan, UAE, Qatar, Sudan, Bahrain and organisations like Al Qaeda and Hezbollah either participate or support one or the other side.
• The Houthis have said they are only targeting ships that are in some way linked to Israel so that they can pressurize Israel to stop bombarding Gaza strip.

What are the challenges that Indian navy faces?
• Jurisdictional Issues: The state in which a ship is registered has the primary responsibility for maintaining security and law enforcement on ships in international waters. A warship of any other state wanting to board a merchant vessel in peacetime will need the consent of the flag state.
• In the wake of Drone attacks the Navies find it difficult come up with counter measures.
• Here, Indian diplomacy can come to rescue as we can use our good relations with Iran, as well as with Israel, to urge moderation and restraint in order to restore peace in the Indian Ocean.
• Also, India has played its card by deploying several warships to protect our merchant ships. The warships include INS Kochi and INS Kolkata: These two stealth destroyers have been deployed off the coast of Aden to protect merchant ships from pirate attacks. INS Mormugao: This Guided Missile Destroyer has been deployed in various areas to maintain a deterrent presence

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