Patriotism in Pakistan’s Balochistan

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The international realization of this strategic importance of Balochistan has deprived its people of their calm and peace.


By Ali Sukhanver

My moon is every body’s moon; this poetic phrase seems no more limited to the expression of love between a lover and the beloved; with the passage of time it has become more appropriate and more suitable for the sincere and truthful lands like that of Balochistan. Located on the northern tip of straits of Hormuz, Balochistan has no doubt become ever body’s moon. This is the area through which much of the world’s oil supply passes. Moreover it is God giftedly rich in natural resources with an estimated 19 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and 6 trillion barrels of oil reserves. Therefore, many countries including USA, Russia and India see Balochistan as a strategically important zone of influence.

The international realization of this strategic importance of Balochistan has deprived its people of their calm and peace by pushing them into an artificially created series of trials and tribulations. Mercilessly exploding bombs and cruelly piercing bullets have targeted nothing but the atmospheric serenity and tranquility of this land. A few days back, all newspapers and electronic media channels were replete with the news of two boxers from Balochistan, Naimatullah Khan and Mohammad Waseem who won gold and silver medals, respectively, at the South Asian Games. Talking on the occasion, the medalists said that they are very happy that they secured medals for their country Pakistan and promised that they would work more hard in the same spirit to win more honour and respect for their motherland in future. Silver medalist Waseem said that justice was not done with him in the final because he is a Pakistani and he was winning the contest against an Indian boxer.
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Yemen and The Militarization of Strategic Waterways: The New Great Game

Securing US Control over Socotra Island and the Gulf of Aden


By Michel Chossudovsky:

“Whoever attains maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean would be a prominent player on the international scene.” (US Navy Geostrategist Rear Admiral Alfred Thayus Mahan (1840-1914))

The Yemeni archipelago of Socotra in the Indian Ocean is located some 80 kilometres off the Horn of Africa and 380 kilometres South of the Yemeni coastline. The islands of Socotra are a wildlife reserve recognized by (UNESCO), as a World Natural Heritage Site.

Socotra is at the crossroads of the strategic naval waterways of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (See map below). It is of crucial importance to the US military.
MAP 1

Among Washington’s strategic objectives is the militarization of major sea ways. This strategic waterway links the Mediterranean to South Asia and the Far East, through the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

It is a major transit route for oil tankers. A large share of China’s industrial exports to Western Europe transits through this strategic waterway. Maritime trade from East and Southern Africa to Western Europe also transits within proximity of Socotra (Suqutra), through the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. (see map below). A military base in Socotra could be used to oversee the movement of vessels including war ships in an out of the Gulf of Aden.

“The [Indian] Ocean is a major sea lane connecting the Middle East, East Asia and Africa with Europe and the Americas. It has four crucial access waterways facilitating international maritime trade, that is the Suez Canal in Egypt, Bab-el-Mandeb (bordering Djibouti and Yemen), Straits of Hormuz (bordering Iran and Oman), and Straits of Malacca (bordering Indonesia and Malaysia). These ‘chokepoints’ are critical to world oil trade as huge amounts of oil pass through them.” (Amjed Jaaved, A new hot-spot of rivalry, Pakistan Observer, July 1, 2009)
MAP 2

Sea Power

From a military standpoint, the Socotra archipelago is at a strategic maritime crossroads. Morever, the archipelago extends over a relatively large maritime area at the Eastern exit of the Gulf of Aden, from the island of Abd al Kuri, to the main island of Socotra. (See map 1 above) This maritime area of international transit lies in Yemeni territorial waters. The objective of the US is to police the entire Gulf of Aden seaway from the Yemeni to Somalian coastline. (See map 1).

Socotra is some 3000 km from the US naval base of Diego Garcia, which is among America’s largest overseas military facilities.

The Socotra Military Base

On January 2nd, 2010, President Saleh and General David Petraeus, Commander of the US Central Command met for high level discussions behind closed doors.

The Saleh-Petraeus meeting was casually presented by the media as a timely response to the foiled Detroit Christmas bomb attack on Northwest flight 253. It had apparently been scheduled on an ad hoc basis as a means to coordinating counter-terrorism initiatives directed against “Al Qaeda in Yemen”, including “the use [of] American drones and missiles on Yemen lands.”

Several reports, however, confirmed that the Saleh-Petraeus meetings were intent upon redefining US military involvement in Yemen including the establishment of a full-fledged military base on the island of Socotra. Yemen’s president Ali Abdullah Saleh was reported to have “surrendered Socotra for Americans who would set up a military base, pointing out that U.S. officials and the Yemeni government agreed to set up a military base in Socotra to counter pirates and al-Qaeda.” (Fars News. January 19, 2010) Read more of this post

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