Balochistan—a frontline region in the Gulf conflict

Published on – May 2, 2016 – 5:00 am

QUETTA: There is a massive concentration of military power in the Gulf region where Turkey had established a military base and deployed combat troops. It was confirmed by the Turkish Prime Minister while addressing the students of University of Qatar at Doha the other day. Turkey will increase the number of troops at the Qatar Base to around 3000 soldiers.

QUETTA: There is a massive concentration of military power in the Gulf region where Turkey had established a military base and deployed combat troops. It was confirmed by the Turkish Prime Minister while addressing the students of University of Qatar at Doha the other day. Turkey will increase the number of troops at the Qatar Base to around 3000 soldiers.

Qatar is the Headquarters of the American Central Command where the United States moved it dreadful B-52 bombers at one of its bases. The United States had stationed around 10,000 troops in the Centcom bases in Qatar. The headquarters of American fifth fleet is in the nearby Bahrain. The Britain also announced to re-establish its naval base in Bahrain to bolster the defence of Gulf region to avert any threat to this tiny Gulf country.

Bringing the B-52 bombers to Qatar base indicated the US designs in the region as the huge planes are capable of carrying 30,000 pound bombs, normally known as the bunker busters. Presumably, it meant for the underground military installations, including the missile sites of Iran. Earlier, the US Defence Secretary had threatened to use the bunker busters in destroying underground military facilities in Iran.

Besides it, there is a flotilla present in the Gulf or in the open sea close to Gulf of Oman or overlooking the Mekran Coast ostensibly to keep the flow of oil to outside world from the Straits of Hormuz. According to media reports, there are more than 50 US warships supported by three aircraft carriers, one each from the United States, Britain and France ensuring stability and peace in the region. All the warships were said to be involved in constant naval and military exercises in the region.

Egypt is another powerful Arab country that had deployed its naval force to protect the Babel Mandeb waterway policing the sea routes and searching vehicles suspected to be carrying weapons for the hostile elements in the whole region. The Egyptian Naval forces are supplementing the efforts of the US and Saudi Navy in policing the important sea routes ensuring supply for energy, mainly oil to the world economy.

In other words, both the US and British Governments are defending their or Western interests in the Gulf region following the incidents of instability disturbing the regional peace in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen and other countries of the Gulf with a deep fear that tension in the region will further escalate engulfing the GCC countries, including Saudi Arabia.

Following the Houthi takeover of Yemen or its major parts after overthrowing the Government, the Arab coalition, backed by the United States, is participating in the civil war in Yemen and bombing the positions of the Houthis and other hostile elements backing the Government in Sana’a. The Arab countries are accusing Iran of supporting the Houthis using them as a proxy in the Yemen war.

There are reports in the Iranian media that top military and political leaders are pledging complete support to their allies in the entire region meaning that Iran will continue to support the Houthis in the Yemen civil war or allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and occupied Palestine.

Around 34 countries of the region, mostly Arab States, had joined a military alliance under the leadership of Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States or the entire NATO alliance. Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt—the three powerful Muslim countries are part of the military alliance.

The alliance had demonstrated its military might by conducting military drills in Saudi Arabia in recent past in which Pakistan had also participated.

Balochistan had always been considered as the backyard of the Gulf and it got immense strategic importance for the past two centuries. The Straits of Hormuz is located on the Mekran Coast of Iranian part and known as mouth of the Gulf.

The British Empire arbitrarily divided Balochistan and handed over a very big chunk of Iran as Britons were unable to govern such a huge territory it colonized using force. It started from the Straits of Hormuz and ended in the plains of Dera Ismail Khan and the nearby hilly region of Tank was Pakhtun. Nawab Mehrab Khan Bugti, father of late Nawab Akbar Bugti, was an important member or the virtual figure head of the boundary commission that had handed over the territory to the Iranian monarch.

According to latest reports, the main conflict between the Arabs, the allies of the Western World, and Iran is Straits of Hormuz fearing that Iran can close the waterway for shipping at any stage of conflict in the region suspending 40 per cent oil supplies to the world economy or compelling the Gulf countries to become landlocked countries as the waterway is controlled by Iran.

The Western countries under the leadership of the United States are accusing Iran of exporting its Shia revolution to the neighbouring countries which Iran had strongly denied it.

Thus the regional conflict is knocking the door of Iranian parts of Balochistan or it is the real nerve centre of the Gulf conflict. Pakistani Balochistan is sharing around 900 kilometer borders and common coastline with the Iranian Balochistan. The upcoming port of Chah Bahar is merely 72 kilometers from Deep-water port of Gwadar. Any upheaval in Chah Bahar will definitely affect Gwadar or the Kech Valley, the cultural capital of Balochistan.

If there is an outbreak of hostilities between Iran and its rival powers, the Iranian Balochistan will definitely be the centre of conflict and later on it can escalate to nearby Pakistani Balochistan.

Presumably, the defence establishment of Pakistan must have prepared the contingency plan to face a difficult situation or defend the national frontiers with its utmost force. If Pakistan remains an active partner of the Saudi-led alliance against Iran, then Tehran may adopt a hostile attitude against Pakistan. Iran will definitely defend its southern flank with full force with the possibility of military incursions.

Or there is unusual development on the Western borders in case of outbreak of hostilities with India, the Arab alliance will be under obligation to defend Pakistani Balochistan from the hostile elements. How will Afghanistan behave? It is certain that it will also adopt a hostile attitude towards Pakistan and may join hands with the Iranian in defending the southern flank. Afghanistan may not be part of the coalition force against Iran, it is predicted.

Iran is giving due importance to security on this part of the region bordering Pakistani Balochistan and Afghanistan; off and on conducting military exercises and naval drills testing its security and efficiencies of its defence forces.

The decisive factor will be the American and its allies both in the NATO and Saudi-led military coalition. If Iran adopts a hostile attitude towards Pakistani administered Balochistan, American forces may come to the rescue of the Pakistani forces in defending territorial integrity of Pakistan.

How the Indians and the Afghans will react to the regional crisis. Most observers feel that both the countries can adopt a hostile or unfriendly attitude towards Pakistan in an attempt to settle their old score.