Gulf of Oman Current Affairs - 2019

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Indian Navy launches Operation Sankalp in Persian Gulf

Indian Navy launched ‘Operation Sankalp’ in Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman to reassure safe passage of Indian flagged vessels transiting through area. This deployment is in the wake of following recent maritime incidents in region.

Key Highlights

Indian Naval Ships, INS Chennai (Kolkata-class stealth guided missile destroyers) and INS Sunayna (Saryu-class patrol vessel) have been deployed in region to undertake maritime security operations. In addition to this aerial surveillance is also being done in area by IN aircraft.

The Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) of Indian Navy is also keeping a close watch on movement of ships in Gulf region. IFC-IOR, launched in December 2018, engages with partner nations to develop comprehensive maritime domain awareness and also share information on vessels of interest.

Need: Operation Sankalp has been launched in wake of escalating tension in Gulf of Oman, where two oil tankers, one Norwegian-owned and other Japanese-owned were attacked on 13 June 2019. This incident has led to heightened tensions between Iran and United States (US). Although, it remains unclear that who was responsible for attacks but US has put the blame on Iran, which, in turn, has denied all allegations.

Importance of Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman

World’s major oil exporters and importers have a joint interest in security of Gulf of Oman this is because Gulf of Oman offers the only entrance from Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean into Persian Gulf.

Persian Gulf is an arm of Arabian Sea, lies between Arabian Peninsula and Iran, extending from Shatt al Arab delta to Strait of Hormuz. Approximately 50% of world’s total oil reserves are estimated to be found here.

India sends first wheat shipment to Afghanistan via Chabahar por

India has flagged off shipment of wheat for Afghanistan through Iran’s Chabahar port. It was flagged off from Kandla port in Gujarat by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani through video conferencing.

Key Facts

Chabahar port is strategically located in Sistan-Balochistan province on energy-rich Iran’s southern coast in Gulf of Oman near its border with Pakistan and can be easily accessed from India’s western coast.

The first consignment transfer was part of India’s commitment to send 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan on grant basis. Afghanistan will receive entire amount in six different instalments over coming months. The consignment will be transported to Afghanistan from Chabahar through land route.

Significance

The shipment of wheat is considered as landmark moment as it paves way for operationalisation of Chabahar port as an alternate, reliable and robust connectivity for landlocked Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

It is first shipment going to Afghanistan through Chabahar port after trilateral agreement on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor was signed between India, Afghanistan and Iran during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Iran in May 2016.

The operationalisation of Chabahar port will open up new opportunities for trade and transit from and to Afghanistan and enhance trade and commerce between India, Afghanistan and Iran and wider region in wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi for trade with the two countries.