Because of the return of geopolitics, there is a growing Importance Bay of Bengal in the Indo-Pacific World. The countries around the Bay of Bengal are home to one-fourth of the world’s population, making this area one of the planet’s most densely inhabited coastlines. This region is home to half of the world’s container traffic, and its ports handle around 30% of global trade. Southeast, South, and Eastern Asia’s economic hub is the Bay of Bengal as it is in the middle of ASEAN and SAARC, two crucial economic blocs.
Geographically speaking, the Bay of Bengal is strategically positioned. However, as the Indo-Pacific strategy continues to develop, the Bay of Bengal is quickly emerging as a vital area of strategic competition. It is the largest bay on the globe and is bounded by Thailand to the east and India to the west. Notable littoral states include Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. The states surrounding the Bay of Bengal have demonstrated a pattern of cooperation that is devoid of coercion and based on the rule of law, supporting the desire for a free and open Indo-Pacific. The comparatively promising economic futures of many littoral governments play a significant role in the region’s growing geopolitical relevance.
When it comes to implementing the Forces Goal 2030, naval diplomacy is important for Bangladesh. In 2009, Bangladesh introduced “Forces Goal 2030,” which aimed at a massive expansion and modernization of the Bangladesh Army, Navy, and Air Force. Building a three-dimensional force capable of multi-platform warfare is the long-term objective. The Goal of Forces It is anticipated that the Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Air Force will evolve into contemporary, effective forces. The initial plan to upgrade the Bangladesh Armed Forces was released in 2030 and later updated in 2017. Bangladesh is situated within striking distance of the missile arsenals of India, Pakistan, and China, the three nuclear powers. In spite of Dhaka’s stated neutral foreign policy, which declares goodwill with everyone and animosity with no one, the country has experienced border disputes with both of its neighbors, India and Myanmar.
Because of its position alongside BOB, balancing great power politics in the background of QUAD, AUKUS has been a tricky situation for Bangladesh.
The geopolitical maneuvering of the regional powers through QUAD and AUKUS has further accelerated the geostrategic significance of the Bay of Bengal. The competition for dominance over the Indo-Pacific region takes place between China and India and among the mid-sized states of the Bay, such as Bangladesh and Myanmar. Extra-regional powers such as Australia, European countries, Japan, and the United States are also key players in this battle. As a result, these countries are building new types of security architecture, such as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and AUKUS.
To the dismay of the Western world and the Asia Pacific nations, China’s power has been clearly growing in recent years in the South China Sea and Indo-Pacific region. The primary goal of the Quad is to safeguard these nations’ economic and political interests in the Indo-Pacific area in addition to undermining Chinese dominance.
The Quad might try to implement a Quad+ initiative or something similar to this. On the one hand, this will result in more members, and on the other, it will strengthen ties with the smaller states. The combined security of this region will be in their hands if they can maintain the smaller states as a “support cluster,” which would make it easier for Quad to carry out its operations. The Chinese ambassador has previously issued a warning to Bangladesh in this regard. He claimed that Bangladesh-China relations would suffer if Bangladesh participated in the Quad. Bangladesh, however, has not received a Quad invitation.
Bangladesh’s focus has to be on non-traditional security issues if the country wants to maintain its desired position in the region. Current globalization and technological advancement have resulted in the rise of non-traditional security issues, and small regional states are the most vulnerable. The region of the Bay of Bengal is linked with non-traditional dangers like environmental risks and threats from non-state actors, such as maritime terrorism and piracy, as well as classic maritime disputes between nation-states. The Indo-Pacific region is quickly becoming a hotspot for maritime crime due to piracy in the waters between India and Bangladesh. Terrorism, illicit maritime trade, trafficking, narcotics, and minor arms narcotics continue to rise.
The militarization of the region and the engagement of major and extra-regional countries are some of the key factors that have increased maritime security concerns in the Indian Ocean. The militarization of the region, the spread of WMDs, improved missile technology, and power projection by foreign armies are all threats to peace in the Indo-Pacific Ocean region. And in the upcoming years, this trend is probably going to get worse. Further instability in the area has also been brought on by the nuclearization of the Indian Ocean.
The Bay of Bengal is a geopolitical and geoeconomic pivot in the Indo-Pacific region. If Bangladesh wants to realize its maximum economic potential, its naval diplomacy has to reflect that urgency. When national interests collide with maritime security challenges, efforts need to be made to strengthen Bangladesh’s capacity by maintaining a significant naval presence. The first-ever naval fleet review proves to be a step in that direction.
Source : Eurasiareview