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  1. #1
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Strategic Islands

    For historical and geopolitical reasons some, usually small, islands have great strategic value, especially as they can provide an airstrip, storage and shelter. Diego Garcia comes to mind, a UK dependency minus its people is a significant base for the USA. Other islands in the Indian Ocean are of value, Maisrah (Oman) for example, whilst Socotra (Yemen) oddly has almost none, largely as it has little potable water and the terrain is harsh.

    The UK has a number of such assets, an imperial legacy, although some have seen a 'small war' e.g. EOKA's campaign in Cyprus, or a significant international conflict, the Falkland Islands war in 1982.

    Non-western nations also have recognised their value, China (PRC) has long been suspected of having a strategy to acquire facilities - a 'String of Pearls':http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_...ls_%28China%29

    So I read this Lowy Institute blog article with interest, not for the possible use by the USA of the Cocos Islands, close to Sumatra (Australia), but the reference to use of the Andaman Islands (India):http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/...-Andamans.aspx

    There are several threads on islands, great power rivalry and the US pivot to the Asia-Pacific.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    You could also include what might be called "symbolic islands": islands, typically disputed, that have no real strategic significance but have come to represent national will and assertiveness on the part of the various claimants.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  3. #3
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Cyprus: a confusing island hosts so many

    Cyprus is a strategic island in the Eastern Mediterranean, first of all it is a divided island, with the Republic of Cyprus (a Commonwealth and an EU member) and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17217956

    With two British territories - really military & intelligence bases - since 1960, known as the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, a polite term for being British territory, which cover one hundred square miles (the island has 3,572 sq miles or 3% of the land area) and sometimes a source of tension with Cyprus:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akrotiri_and_Dhekelia

    The USA has been known to use the SBA facilities, in the past for aircraft overflying the Middle East, such as the U2.

    With one of the UN's longest serving missions, UNFICYP, since 1964, manning a buffer zone (3% of he land area) between the two republics and with main contributions from:Argentina, Slovakia and the UK (plus nine others):http://www.unficyp.org/nqcontent.cfm...raphic&lang=l1

    UNFICYP has been commanded since January 2011 by a Chinese PLA General:http://www.unficyp.org/nqcontent.cfm...raphic&lang=l1

    Greece has a small presence (a battallion) and two hundred advisers with the Greek-Cypriot National Guard; whilst Turkey has based forty-three thousand soldiers in the north (since 1974).

    The island has long been regarded as a "place of interest" to Middle Eastern nations, notably for intelligence and trade. More recently Russia has extensive commercial interests and yesterday following a ministerial statement on exiting its Syrian facility, The Guardian reported:
    Neighbouring Cyprus has, however, made its ports available to the Russian fleet. Cypriot media have reported that the government may allow Russia to use its base at Paphos to host military aircraft.
    Link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013...ersonnel-syria

    Anyone aware of a similar island with such a variety of "presences"? I exclude the UN in New York!
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-02-2013 at 09:15 PM. Reason: This was a stand alone post, now merged here.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Singapore

    An IISS Strategic Comment 'Singapore and the US: security partners, not allies':http://www.iiss.org/en/publications/...ot-allies-fe48

    Although Singapore continues to balance it's national interests, as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stated:
    Singapore is friends with America, also with India, Japan and China and the other major powers. And we would like to maintain our good relations with all of them.
    Aside: I'd missed that in June 2013 Singapore exited from Afghanistan.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    The first US Pivot to the Pacific was all about strategic islands.

    During the Spanish-American War the US secured it's hold on Hawaii; and then scooped up additional critical deep water ports/coaling stations in Guam and the Philippines and Samoa.

    When China looks a few hundred miles to the East we have a cow, but a little over a century ago we leaped several thousand miles to the West, and remain there to this day. For good reason. Like Great Britain we are a maritime nation and "strategic islands" remain an effective way to extend one's influence well beyond their borders.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Britain long had a string of pearls to tie together it's Empire, though not all necessarily defined by geography as islands.

    Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Suez, Aden, Ceylon, Penang, Singapore.

    The Americans have or had Hawaii, Midway, Wake, Guam, the Philippines, Okinawa.

    Sicily used to be the key to dominate the Western Med.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Don't forget the Azores. I stopped by there on a C-141 hop to Cairo West, then onwards to Mogadishu

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