Silent Battle for the Seas

According to some naval experts the fight against piracy off the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Aden and in the Indian Ocean could lead to a new balance of power.

In addition to the EU and Nato task forces a number of nations, including the USA, India, China and Iran, are involved in anti-piracy operations in what is becoming one of the world’s most disputed waters.

According to Dr Lee Willett, of the Royal United Services Institute, “Nations are looking at having a permanent presence in the Indian Ocean.” Willett believes that “It’s part of a grand global strategy which British defence chiefs need to consider when making naval cuts.

Richard Shaw, of Southampton University’s Institute of Maritime Law, notes that while the USA, India, China and Iran share intelligence and collaborate in counter-piracy operations there are issues tied to their having little diplomatic bonds. Some analysts fear this may lead to a battle for naval supremacy.

As specifically regards Tehran’s interest in participating in counter-piracy operations one diplomatic source recently stated that “Iran feels this policing activity gives it credibility. But as long as it is perceived to be developing nuclear weapons, it will not succeed.” The diplomat also stressed the fact that China is very much focused on developing a presence in waters that were once the almost exclusive domain of Europe.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jared M. King

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Mark Lowe, Monday 14 March 2011

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