Joint drill by Russia, Iran & China

Published: December 29, 2019

Russia, China and Iran look to conduct a joint naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman and India Ocean region. China has close diplomatic ties in terms of trade and energy with Iran which has friendly ties with Russia. It is seen as a response to recent moves and manoeuvres in the region by the United States. A four day exercise will be launched from Chabhar the port city. It is near the Iran-Pakistan border and was built with Indian assistance and India operates the port.

Significance of the naval exercise

The exercise is being held in the Gulf of Oman which is critical waterway connecting the Arabian Sea to the Strait of Hormuz, it is the only sea passage which connects the open ocean to the Persian Gulf. It is where the world’s energy producers are located – Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar. This area witnesses a fifth of the world’s oil passing through the waterway. The area has been a point of tensions since 2019. In the months of May and June, there were several international merchant vessels attacked by assailants here.

The United States blamed Iran for attacks, which were refuted by the country. In the month of July, Iran had detained a British oil vessel for two months which was believed to be done in retaliation of the Iranian oil carriers which was detained earlier by the British authorities in Gibraltar. Tensions had escalated when US accused Iran of carrying attacks on oil fields in Saudi Arabia via drones. The attacks resulted in immediate reduction of oil production by Saudi Arabia’s production facility to half and was later restored to full capacity. However, Iran denied such allegations which was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The attack saw the US sending troops to the region and providing Saudi Arabia with missile defence system.

With the US pulling out of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, it has pushed sanctions on Iran, cutting down on its energy sales and thus crippling its economy. The joint drill by these nations is expected to provoke US further.

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