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India’s access to a strategic port in Oman

 India’s access to a strategic port in Oman

Context:

India has signed an amorphous deal and secured access to the key Port of Duqm in Oman for military use and logistical support. The Port of Duqm is situated on the southeastern seaboard of Oman, overlooking the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Misreported as "strategic" ‘game-changer’:

  • Since India has no foreseeable plan or strategy, and is not backed up by a booming economy, this port-pact ‘game-changes’ nothing, adds no ‘strategic’ anything to anyone in the foreseeable future.
  • This is not the first overseas stationing pact that India has signed, all of which with the benefit of hindsight were ill-conceived, based on both wishful thinking and an overestimation of our capabilities and clout.
  • First off the mark were India's bases at Ayni and Farkhor in Tajikistan. One was used to supply our friends and allies in Afghanistan and the other ostensibly to station Mig-29 combat aircraft, to create a second front against Pakistan or provide air cover to Afghanistan.
  • Tajikistan, being a landlocked country, supply routes to it dependent on either Chinese or Iranian cooperation. It was to cement the overland route that India started its plans at Chahbahar.
  • Chahbahar was meant to represent an intersection of many plans, including energy security and supplying Afghanistan, hopefully providing a neutral conduit for US supplies if and when the Iran-US rapprochement happened.

Need a better Planning:

  • To date, Chahbahar has yet to be properly connected up to the Delaram-Zaranj highway with a patchy road network running north from Chahbahar to Iranshahr, Zahedan and Zabol, from where the Iranian A71 highway ends abruptly as the Indian-built highway on the other side is something of a dirt track.
  • From this point on, one basically enters Taliban territory, the Indian-built road being a great gift for Taliban logistics and fundraising by extorting taxes on traffic.
  • If the Chahbahar-Delaram-Zaranj-Ayni-Farokhor chain was a case of bad planning, with wishful thinking replacing astute analysis, geography and spadework, Qatar and Duqm represent no planning at all, with presumably much money sunk into academic conferences to confer post-facto strategic foresight on them.

Conclusion:

  • If it is possible to use such a port without absolute extraterritoriality as the US enjoys in Qatar, Okinawa and Diego Garcia, then this is an asset; otherwise not.

 

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