One is completely amused to read the statement of Richard Olson, US Ambassador in Pakistan, “Era of proxy wars should end in South Asia”. It raises a question, why is he talking about South Asia only while the super power continues to fuel proxy wars in Middles East and North Africa (MENA). The hottest spots are Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and even Nigeria.
One just can’t forget that the most recent and longest proxy war is being fought in Afghanistan for nearly four decades. The pretext at that time was averting USSR attack on Afghanistan, which was termed an attempt to reach ‘warm waters’. The attack on Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11 was aimed at catching OBL, hibernating in a country ruled by Taliban, who fought proxy war against USSR.
One may say that this statement is the outcome of paradigm shift in the US foreign policy. It seems the way is being paved for emerge of new regional powers in South Asia and MENA to fill the gap likely to emerge from an exit of the super power from the oil rich region.
The new power contenders are China, India, Iran and to some extent Pakistan. Pakistan is likely to get stronger under the umbrella of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Iran and India enjoy their own latent powers due to economic cooperation going on for a long time despite economic sanctions imposed on Iran for more than three decades.
Efforts to bring Iran out of shamble and increasing oil export from Iraq and Libya seems a proxy war against Saudi Arabia by denting its petrodollar income and also keeping Iranian oil proceeds low. The US is the biggest beneficiary of nearly 60 percent decline in crude oil prices due to shale oil boom in the US. It is no longer dependent on Saudi Arabia for its oil requirements.
Many may wonder why the US is giving China a leeway in South Asia but countering its policy in South China Sea. It seems Malacca Strait has become more important for the US as compared to Arabian Peninsula or Strait of Hormaz. Somali pirates have been tamed and proxy war in Yemen is enough to block Suez Canal as and when required.
It may also be said that the US is allowing China to conduct its international trade through Gwadar port to lessen its dependence on Russia for its energy requirements. Supporting China is ‘selecting a lesser evil’ to contain growing Russian phantom and rest of the talk is only eyewash.