SIZING UP THE STRAIT OF MALACCA

melakaLong acknowledged as a strategic sea lane over the centuries, the Strait of Malacca today still attracts more than its fair share of superpowers’ attention.

As far back as 1995, Yossef Bodansky, Special Consultant on International Terrorism for the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies, and former Director of the Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US Congress, as well as author of several books on terrorism, has described the Strait of Malacca thus:

“The Strait of Malacca is one of the world’s hottest and most crucial strategic choke points. It is considered by experts to be one of the 10 most vulnerable objectives which neutralization by hostile forces not only will cause tremendous harm to the well-being, perhaps very existence, of the economy of the West, but is also very easy to accomplish. Controlling the Strait of Malacca is presently a key strategic objective of the PRC to the point of risking armed conflict with the regional states and even the US.

Virtually the entire commercial sea traffic between the Far East and Europe, the Middle East, and India passes through the Strait of Malacca. The entire fuel and gas shipments purchased from the Persian Gulf for the Far East passes there. Furthermore, the region’s largest oil fields are virtually in the eastern mouth of the Strait. Moreover, Singapore — the region’s largest commercial and communications center and key port — lies at the eastern mouth of the Strait of Malacca.

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