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Houthi Attacks, Piracy And The Challenge Of Multilateral Response

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In the throes of escalating Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping and subsequent retaliation by US and allied forces, India finds itself ensnared in a maritime crisis of daunting proportions, contends Capt. Sarbjeet Singh Parmar, a maritime security specialist and former Indian Navy officer.

The fallout from these assaults manifests as a formidable "double whammy" for India: vessels bound for Indian ports must now circumvent the Cape of Good Hope, incurring heightened fuel costs, while also contending with piracy threats off the West African coast. The cumulative effect threatens India's exports, potentially amounting to a staggering $30 billion loss this year alone, constituting a substantial 6.7% decline from the previous year.

Parmar draws a somber parallel to bygone challenges, evoking memories of the early 2000s when dual perils of Houthis and piracy loomed large. He highlights the painstakingly slow progress in coordinating anti-piracy efforts due to disparate shipping laws, a predicament echoing the protracted establishment of working groups during the Somali piracy era.

Amidst these mounting perils, the Indian Navy has mustered a significant response, deploying two warships in the Gulf of Aden and bolstering presence with ten warships in the Arabian Sea, marking one of its most substantial regional deployments. Nevertheless, Parmar casts doubt on the efficacy of multilateral initiatives, citing ongoing NATO discord and bureaucratic impediments to cohesive action.

Parmar advocates for a recalibration of regional maritime strategies, urging a shift beyond the purview of existing multilateral frameworks. He proposes expanding the mandate of forums like the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium to encompass robust responses to emergent threats, cautioning against complacency in the face of escalating maritime risks. In a landscape increasingly defined by minilateral and bilateral arrangements, Parmar underscores the imperative for swift and decisive action to safeguard maritime interests in the Indian Ocean region.


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Source: Stratnews Global