Monday, April 15, 2024

Message to the West? Iran, Pakistan Stage Joint Naval Drills in Strait of Hormuz

HomeWARMessage to the West? Iran, Pakistan Stage Joint Naval Drills in Strait...

In a show of growing military cooperation, Iran and Pakistan held a joint naval exercise in the strategically important Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday. The drills involved combat vessels and missile-launching warships from both navies, and aimed to elevate training interactions and promote military relations between the two neighbors.

The exercises come at a time of shifting geopolitics in the region. Pakistan is facing economic turmoil and looking to strengthen ties with regional powers like Iran. Meanwhile, Iran wants to build influence after years of sanctions over its nuclear program. Joint military exercises allow both countries to signal cooperation and stability.

According to statements from both navies, the drills took place off the coast of Bandar Abbas, a port city in southern Iran. The navies focused on naval tactics and communication training. Young officers and cadets practiced emergency messaging and signal transmission using various telecommunication systems.

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The Pakistani fleet was led by the PMSS Zhob, a Hingol-class patrol vessel. Notable Iranian ships included the IRIS Zereh, a Sina-class fast attack craft, and the IRIS Karbala, a Hormuz-class landing ship. Photos showed the vessels sailing in formation during the daylight exercises.

Experts say joint patrols in the Strait of Hormuz have symbolic importance, since around a third of the world’s seaborne oil passes through the narrow waterway. With Iran threatening to close the strait over sanctions, and piracy a risk, coordinated training is meaningful. But larger geopolitical realignments likely motivate the drills.

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“These exercises are not just about tactical training,” said Robert Singh, a professor at Delhi University. They help Pakistan deepen ties with Iran diplomatically, economically, and militarily. The US-India strategic partnership has left Pakistan looking for partnerships, and Iran wants to end its isolation.”

Other recent efforts back up cooperation between the two nations. Last June, senior navy and air force commanders from both countries met in Pakistan to discuss plans. And the chief of the Iranian navy recently visited Islamabad to boost military ties. Officials say more joint exercises may follow.

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With India, Saudi Arabia and other rivals holding joint drills, Iranian and Pakistani officials likely want to signal their partnership is also strong. And by cooperating economically, such as on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Iran can develop land routes to increase trade.

For now, experts caution the exercises are still limited in scope. But they do indicate Iran and Pakistan are building security relationships that may worry rivals. Looking ahead, all eyes will be on whether joint patrols actually materialize in the Strait of Hormuz.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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