Geopolitics of the Sea East to West & Mare Nostrum

There are two Dolphin-type Israeli submarines in service. The first is patrolling in the Mediterranean and the second in the Persian Gulf. The submarine in the Persian Gulf, according to expert Bharat Karnad (Research Professor in National Security Studies, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, member of the First National Security Advisory Board of the National Security Council, Government of India) navigates in the nearby Strait of Hormuz in order to closely monitor Iranian military objectives.

The Israeli submarine patrols, albeit in a negative perspective, perfectly illustrate the inter-connectivity between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Today, it is in the strategic theatre of the Indian Ocean that intertwines the two big conflicts which can alter global order: the tension between China and India for energy supplies and that of the USA and the Islamic world over the control of energy production.

In fact more than 15% of the world’s oil supply is transited through the Strait of Hormuz. Furthermore, the Strait of Hormuz serves the increasing Chinese energy demand. No wonder that the Strait plays host to the American fleet, the Indian aircraft carrier and, now as we also know, the second submarine of Israel.

However, the Indian fleet, not only monitors Hormuz, it also navigates around the Strait of Malacca where all the Chinese exports exit, destined to Europe and strategic parts of Africa. The relationship between China and India is now oscillating between tension and indifference, while that of Iran and China is improving and that of the USA and Israel is worsening.

In the global strategic context the military relationship including technological assistance between India and Israel, should not be underestimated in as much as they are mutually opposed to the Islamic coalition. Quite openly, the Dolphin-type Israeli submarine of the Persian Gulf had accomplished its training in Indian territorial waters in close collaboration with the Indian Marines.

The geopolitics of oil flow concerns an array of countries: from the Mediterranean Rim to the Gulf and further to Central Asia and China. We are increasingly becoming sea-dependent. The new geo-strategic aim of the Israeli Marine Corps confirms this statement. It seems that for Israel, it is no longer the Mediterranean Sea but the Strait of Hormuz, from where to launch a potential offensive.

Rising China & India Puts Control of the High Seas in Sharp Relief

Today’s advanced capitalist development of China and the concomitant international labour division, structured as it is, on the coherent manufacture-distribution world network based on the low Chinese wages and the making of high profits among occidental and Chinese multinationals alike, imposes an increasing occupation of the high seas.

The strong appearance of China in the first, and of India in the second place on the international scene, has opened a new phase of destabilization of the prevailing model of Anglo-Saxon supremacy as constructed by the UK and the United States. Most, if not all, the major ‘check and control points’ in the global seas controlled by the US fleet in unfolding its capacity of emergency intervention to protect and promote the American interests, were previously in the hands of the British Empire.

In such ‘check points’, together with an excessive strong tension, in fact, emerge the same small “strait”, the passage of oil or the export of the merchandise which are both the result of the new delocalization in Asia and in particular in China.

China and India have become huge importers of oil. For that matter there is increasing tension in the areas of strategic networks: at the Straits of Malacca and of Hormuz, as well as at the Suez and the Panama Canal.

As a consequence, the areas surrounding these Straits solidify the stronger tension emanating from the new delocalized industrial order and also from the capitalistic model based on the oil-transport axes. The immense growth of Chinese manufacture in the last decade has led to great energy demand by Beijing for internal consumption. Both of those processes have been boosting tremendously maritime transport of oil and commodity containers. The number of oil tankers and container-carriers ploughing through the oceans saw steep increase.

In fact, the first Chinese super oil tanker capable of surpassing the Strait of Malacca and using the passage of Lombok is already active. The Strait of Malacca is a strategic passage of Japan as well as of China for oil imports on the one hand and for manufactured products exports on the other.

The Strait of Malacca dividing the peninsula of Malaysia on the east from the island of Sumatra (Indonesia) in the west isbecoming increasingly security sensitive. This all-important Strait in Southeast Asia emerges loaded with ‘goods’ but also tension, as it becomes a prime target for the new piracy activity, boasting record attacks in the South China Sea. The area is equally exposed to tensions between China, Japan and USA for control of access to Taiwan and also between pirates in the Strait of Malacca and that of military-diplomats in the Paracel Islands and Spratly between China, Vietnam, Philippines and Taiwan.

The US and China vie also for control of the narrow seawater passageway between Singapore and Batam: the Straits of Singapore. Baptised by the French geographer Yves, as the “Asian Mediterranean”, the Singapore Straits encapsulate once more the problems derived from the redesign of the international division of labour leading to new issues regarding energy supply and consequently unresolved knots in the global geopolitical game.

‘Mare Nostrum’: A Vision for the Mediterranean Sea

It is indeed the “sea”, together with the “freespace”, where the industrial and energy courses are hindered making the sea a place more sensitive to climatic changes and bio-ecologies. For this reason, the moment the Mediterranean Sea will get congested by worldwide naval traffic on the east-west network it will become either the next ecological disaster or the space for a dimension totally new to the sea: the Mediterranean as a “common good”, as a patrimony to the humanity.

Contrary to the vision of a purportedly “free sea” for the Transatlantic “Sea Power” which is subject to tensions and conflicts, like in the Indian Ocean, we should propose a “mare nostrum” as a common good for the citizens of all of the coastal states. Our closed sea, the Mediterranean can again play its central role, like the original one at the start of civilization: a “free and common sea” where freedom conjugates with peace and with the common interest in the preservation of our precious environment and biodiversity.

We can think therefore of a step forward, perceiving of the Montego Bay 1982 Convention of the Law of the Sea, not only as rules and regulations for navigation but as an “ecological patrimony for the humanity”.

The Mediterranean can be the model of harmonious cohabitation of diversity at the biological as well as the cultural level. For this reason,with the challenge of standardization that the United States in competition with China are engaged in, the Mediterranean should open a new space and new possible dimension of living in harmony with nature and with diverse cultures.

The Mediterranean, therefore, as a “depository of biodiversity and multi-culturalism” becomes a new centre, a new distributor of culture and of healthy patterns at a world-wide level.

*This article is published in memory of our deceased colleague and dear friend, Oscar Marchisio, the prolific Italian intellectual, author and practitioner, who died in Bologna, 7 August 2009. The brief analysis above formed part of a grand project in pursuance of peace, tolerance, cooperation and creativity in 'Mare Nostrum' , 'our Mediterranean Sea', that we agreed upon with late Oscar (Bologna, January 2009). Oscar Marchisio called for our cooperation. We swiftly responded positively. The sudden death of Oscar left this tall task unfininished. We, at the International Security Forum vow to strive for the implementation of the noble goals late Oscar dedicated his life to. Caro Oscar, riposa in pace! Dr Yiorghos Leventis 

 


 

 

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Comments

 

no israel
written by arabmuslim, November 03, 2010 

There is no democracy in Israel as a state is illegitimate and illegal and not recognized
Evidence of this if anyone wanted to write a comment in the Israeli websites
Does not allow him or be there are many obstacles to prevent him from writing a comment The reasons for Arab-Israeli conflict is the occupation of Palestine in 1948.
Palestine Arab Islamic state like the rest of the Arab and Islamic states surrounding
Them. Means that there are Jews and Zionists in Palestine a big mistake, because this entity
Zionist is not consistent with the surrounding area (such as language, customs, traditions and religion)
The only solution to end the Arab-Israeli conflict is the expulsion of Jews from Palestine
All of Palestine. The Jewish people will not rest and will not feel comfortable and stability
But if it gets out of Palestine and the Middle East completely. If people continue to
Jews in Palestine and the Middle East, the death and destruction will continue.
Palestine Arab Islamic state and will remain

 

 

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