Article: India alarmed at Saudi oil refinery project in strategic Gawadar port


Pakistan’s latest announcement about Saudi Arabia’s
investment in an oil refinery at the strategic port of Gwadar has set alarm bells ringing in India.

James M. Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School
of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, says
that Saudi’ oil refinery in Gwadar Port could threaten Iran’s India-backed
Chabahar Port.

The deal could additionally involve deferred payments on
Saudi oil supplies which will firstly, create a strategic oil reserve close to
Iran, and secondly, help cash-strapped Pakistan in payments, Dorsey said.

Gwadar Port was built mainly by Chinese assistance. It is
now operated by the Chinese.

refinery and strategic oil reserve in Gwadar would serve Saudi Arabia’s goal of
preventing Chabahar, the Indian-backed Iranian port, from emerging as a
powerful Arabian Sea hub at a time that the United States is imposing sanctions
designed to choke off Iranian oil exports, Dorsey said adding:

Saudi think tank, the International Institute for Iranian Studies, previously
known as the Arabian Gulf Centre for Iranian Studies (AGCIS) that is believed
to be backed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, argued last year in
a study that Chabahar posed “a direct threat to the Arab
Gulf states” that called for “immediate counter meaures.”

by Mohammed Hassan Husseinbor, an Iranian political researcher of Baloch
origin, the study warned that Chabahar would enable Iran to increase its oil
market share in India at the expense of Saudi Arabia, raise foreign investment
in the Islamic republic, increase government revenues, and allow Iran to
project power in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

suggested that Saudi support for a low-level Baloch insurgency in Iran could
serve as a countermeasure. “Saudis could persuade Pakistan to soften its
opposition to any potential Saudi support for the Iranian Baluch” The
Arab-Baluch alliance is deeply rooted in the history of the Gulf region and
their opposition to Persian domination,” Husseinbor said.

the vast expanses of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province, Husseinbor went on
to say that “it would be a formidable challenge, if not impossible, for the
Iranian government to protect such long distances and secure Chabahar in the
face of widespread Baluch opposition, particularly if this opposition is
supported by Iran’s regional adversaries and world powers.”

Saudi militants reported at the time the study was published that funds from the kingdom were flowing into anti-Shiite, anti-Iranian Sunni Muslim ultra-conservative madrassas or religious seminaries in Balochistan.

Dorsey recalled that President Donald J. Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, last year before assuming office, drafted at the request of Trump’s then strategic advisor, Steve Bannon, a plan that envisioned US support “for the democratic Iranian opposition,” including in Balochistan and Iran’s Sistan and Balochistan province.

China building military
base in Pakistan

In another development, China is reportedly constructing
a military base in Pakistan’s port of Jiwani, close to the Iranian border on
the Gulf of Oman.

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The Jiwani base, a joint naval and air facility for
Chinese forces, is located a short distance up the coast from the Chinese-built
commercial port facility at Gwadar, Pakistan.

The Chinese have asked the Pakistanis to undertake a
major upgrade of Jiwani airport so the facility will be able to handle large
Chinese military aircraft.

Jiwani will be China’s second major overseas military
base. In August, the PLA opened its first foreign base in Djibouti, a small
African nation on the Horn of Africa.

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Author and journalist.
Author of
Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality;
Islam in the Post-Cold War Era;
Islam & Modernism;
Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America.
Currently working as free lance journalist.
Executive Editor of American (more…)

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