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From the Persian Gulf to Australia. Okus and rules to control China

From the Persian Gulf to Australia, passing through the most important strategic center of the Indian Ocean: Diego Garcia. Air Force and Navy of the United Kingdom and United States of America They are arming their bases in the waters of South Asia to build a veritable fire and belt of control on the major ocean routes. Those that connect the main ports of the Far East to the region closest to Africa and that also cut through the area of ​​operation of the European powers.

The Aukus agreement between the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, which also relates (if not above all) to the sale of nuclear-powered submarines in Canberra, is just the latest in a series of measures drawn up by London and Washington. The goal is to control trade and military flows to or from Chinese bases, but also a signal. A warning to Beijing that what is happening in the Pacific Ocean is also related to another ocean, the Indian Ocean, which pentagonal It is “united” with the formation of that great region called Indian and Pacific Oceans. The invention is not just a strategic imagination, but a clear political message: the name indicates destiny, readability, an accurate narrative. If there is not only one ocean, but two oceans, it means that there is not only one power, but there are many: the sea, by definition without limits, thus becomes the theater of all the actors of a larger area, inextricably linked in. Actions and destinies. Talking about the Pacific means talking about the Far East and Oceania. Talking about the Indo-Pacific means entering India immediately but also looking beyond, towards the western shores of this huge body of water that straddles the coasts of Africa and the Middle East.

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Infographic by Alberto Pilotto

Hence the need for the US and UK to build a strategic framework that is not limited in space to categories that are outdated in practice. Duqm, in Oman, is not just a Middle Eastern base, but a nerve center that connects the projection of Anglo-American power in the Near East to the depths of the ocean. On September 12, 2020, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace He announced the allocation of 23.8 million pounds to expand the Omani base, explaining that it would triple by facilitating the “proliferation of the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean.” A particularly interesting reference since a military post in the Arabian Sea has been explicitly expanded to project itself into the Indian Ocean despite enormous British and American interests in the Persian Gulf and in the region toward Bab el Mandeb. Words that do not mean much disinterest in the Gulf and those ways (impossible even for the history of Great Britain and the aims of the USA) but rather unity on the chessboard. Nothing in the fluidity of the Indo-Pacific is left to chance. After all, as The Washington InstituteIndia also confirmed and reinforced the defense agreement with Oman by sending submarines and P-8I aircraft to the same Duqm base. It is perfectly legitimate to believe that this could be one of the main US outposts for any operations to stifle Chinese action in the region.

Thousands of kilometers from Duqm, another base in the British Indian Ocean Territories, Diego Garcia, represents another link in the chain of securing China and controlling the sea. Completely immersed in this huge body of water south of India, the island, shared by American and British forces, is now a strategic center of fundamental importance. Especially after London and Washington’s investment in Aukus but also with Boris Johnson’s decision to send his fleet permanently to the waters of the Indo-Pacific. A turning point with the flight of the carrier strike group, the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth. This was also explained by Alessio Batalano, a professor at King’s College London, a Nikki Asia. “Diego Garcia acts as a glue that keeps the western Indian Ocean practically connected to the eastern part of the Indian Ocean region,” the professor explained. The perfect intersection point between the east and west ocean.

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Australia now offers the perfect third pole of a form of choking Chinese landmarks in the Indo-Pacific region. Canberra has long indicated that it wants to move away from Chinese pressure given its proximity to US targets. For this reason, the signing of the agreement with Washington and London, rather than an anti-French key, should be read as the latest gesture of defiance to Beijing. Many suggest that the submarine question should be asked from the perspective of Australian consolidation, within the new strategy of Allied engagement known as “integrated deterrence”, both in order to increase the same US expectations in the Pacific and Oceania region. Precisely for this reason, some analysts argue that “Ocos” may imply, at least in the medium term, the Pentagon’s use of Australian bases for US Navy nuclear submarines. Therefore, it is no longer just a rotation of bombers and ground forces, but also a greater use of Australian territory as a huge launch base and control tower in the Indo-Pacific: starting from the base Perth, identified by many experts as one of the real fulcrums of this new Anglo-American naval strategy.

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Earl Warner

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