Murder in the Mid-Sea — USA’s New War in the Persian Gulf

By: Sudhanshu Tripathi, Ph.D

The aggressive and pre-emptive foreign policy posture of America, as regards on-going US-Iran standoff, will do more harm towards arriving at an acceptable solution of the Iran’s continuing nuclear programme crisis than anything else, thereby endangering not only the peace and security of the region but also of the whole world.


The already tense scenario in the Persian Gulf took a most unfortunate turn on Monday just gone by when a US warship USNS Rappahannock-a military supply ship-fired at the Indians in their fishing boat, thereby killing an Indian, named Sekar and injuring the other three- all four from Tamil Nadu, employed with a United Arab Emirates company. The incident, which took place at a distance of 16 km off the port of Jebel Ali, within United Arab Emirates’ waters, once again, reminds the unprovoked killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian marines off the Kerala coast in the month of February this very year. Now this incident is leading to acquire broader international overtones due to on-going feud between the US and Iran as it appeared to reflect the mounting military tensions in the Gulf, which are rooted in the standoff between the US and Iran over its nuclear programme, and memories of an earlier sea-borne Al-Qaeda attack, which had blown a 40-foot hole in the US warship, Cole, that had docked in Aden.

Although the US administration has tightened the sanctions noose on Iran and moved significant military reinforcements to the Persian Gulf in an ill-advised attempt to force a resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue but such unprovoked firing as is being reported in this case, will only worsen the volatile situation and will lead to cause deep mistrust about its (US) intentions. More and more fighter aircrafts have been deployed and the US Navy has added minesweepers and an amphibious transport and docking ship reportedly to serve as the Pentagon’s first floating staging base for military operations or “humanitarian” assistance in the event of hostilities. Although the US Navy, as its version goes, has issued a series of non-lethal, pre-planned responses to warn the approaching boat towards it, but that did not made the fate less boat to change its onward course, necessitating the use of force by the warship. What exactly transpired may never fully and truly be known, but, as evident, this incident points to a role of brute power ie. military-edge.

First Hyper Power

Now the vital question is that can the US, being the first hyper power in the world, safely resort to any kind of military action even the most heinous killing without undergoing penal consequences and go scot free just because it is an action in self- defence. But this privilege is not available to other countries as the US itself comes forward to ensure such penal action in case of not so privileged countries. All this discriminatory practices are well going in international relations despite the Peace Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 being in full force providing for sovereign equality of nation states. How long will this discrimination go on even today’s so-called modern, liberal and democratic world where the US is the sole guardian of human rights and democracy.

India’s Concerns

As regards India’s response to this critical situation in the Persian Gulf; it should be to make way for ensuring harmonious balance between competing interests with both Iran and America, but with a rider that it will never support nor tolerate such gross violation and trampling of basic rights of others, whether an individual or a country by any power, howsoever high or mighty it be. At the same time, the matter should be brought before United Nations and the International Court of Justice for legal accountability and consequent liability given to the aggrieved party. Further, the brutal killing of an Indian in this firing should serve as a wake-up call for India because it underlines the uncertain fate that lies ahead for around six million Indians living in the Gulf and West Asian regions if the current standoff between America and Iran turns into full-scale hostilities between them.


Hence, India must come forward with like-minded countries to work for diffusing the prevailing tense situation in the region. Being a founder member of the Non Aligned Movement, it should exercise its clout to restrain Iran, also a member, and should try to prevail upon the US to shed its pre-emptive and aggressive foreign policy, so that peace and security may return into the region in the larger interest of humanity and a feasible solution to the on-going Iranian nuclear programme may be found out.

About the author: Dr. Sudhanshu Tripathi is an Associate Professor of Political Science based in India. Click here to mail him.