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It was the day after Youngho returned from the Pamir Plateau that Park Jong-il returned to the royal territory. He was proud that he drew positive answers both from the United Arab Emirates and Iran. The two governments agreed in principle to jointly develop oil fields around the island as both countries needed the oil and gas buried around the island.
This was a great achievement for Kazakhstan as it had resolved not only the Kurdish refugee problem but also the tension at the Persian Gulf now. If this were spread to the global community, Kazakhstan would soon be called the troubleshooter of the Middle East.
“We intervened at the right timing. Of course, I played a key part in this.”
“You’ve done a great job. Who else would solve such a difficult task? Man, it’s going to be hard for me to see you from now on, Jong-il, because you’ll get famous.”
Park Jong-il, who was smiling broadly at Young-ho’s praise, erased his playful look and showed a worried expression.
“It’s just the beginning. Those countries will now start fighting over who’s going to take the lead in the co-development project.”
“We should take care of it till the end. They won’t reject our intervention.”
It could rather be easily resolved because both the United Arab Emirates and Iran wanted to get out of the tiring territorial dispute.
“The question is whether the two sides will trust us.”
“Say that we will not take any interest but just act as a mediator. It’s a place where major oil companies have to stick together in order to develop it.”
“I don’t know if they’ll ever let us play that role.”
“You have to make it happen. The person who started it is supposed to take responsibility until the end.”
“Man, the head of the Intelligence Department has to act as a manager, too?”
“There’s nothing much to it, anyway. Don’t you have to use your experience of a joint venture with Yaniv, anyway? Where else would you use that?”
“What are you talking about? The scale of oil field this time is incomparably huge.”
“The size doesn’t matter. Eriksson will support you from behind. You should be fine.”
“Just remember that I played a big part in this one.”
“Yes. I’ll remember for sure, so don’t worry.”
“I don’t know if we’re going too far in other people’s business when we also have a lot to do.”
“The border dispute has always been there. Also, the business of the Persian Gulf is not others’ business. It’s the only way to make inroads into Indian and Southeast Asian markets. We definitely need to be involved in this matter.”
“There’s a good harbor in Oman, too. We have no reason to be hung up on the Persian Gulf. When the Hormuz Strait is blocked, the Persian Gulf will be no different than a prison.”
Park Jong-il’s concern was not a groundless fear.
In order to enter the Persian Gulf, vessels needed to go through the Hormuz Strait, but there was always a chance for the conflict to resume.
Jong-il, who paused for a while, continued,
“What if we could use Iran’s port?”
“We’ve already agreed to use the port of Bandar, the last stop of the Baku-Bandar railway.”
“But it’s just a port in the Persian Gulf, too. If there’s a port that goes directly to the Arabian Sea, we won’t have to be involved in potential trouble.”
“Will Iran easily surrender such a port for us to use as a military port?”
“When I visited Iran this time, the government officials’ opinions were leaning toward opening their port to us.”
“Where is it?”
“It’s the port of Chabahar in the Gulf of Oman.”
The port of Chabahar was located at the Gulf of Oman, where it led to the Strait of Hormuz.
It was at the end of the Arabian Sea, where vessels could enter the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, whether Hormuz was blocked or not. Recently, the Indian government was developing the port of Chabahar with a 500-million dollar investment.
As the Chinese government developed the neighboring port of Gwadar, Pakistan, the Indian government was also developing the port of Chabahar in haste, which was intended to check China’s advance to the Middle East.
The completion of the pipeline linking Pakistan’s port of Gwadar to the Chinese continent would save huge transportation fees for the Chinese government.
“How about investing in the port of Chabahar to pressure China? If we asked, the Indian government will, of course, open the port for our navy. It will be overwhelming for India alone to keep China in check.”
“China is making a harbor in Pakistan?”
“The Chinese government is planning to station the Chinese Navy there all the time. That is why the Indian government is investing in the port of Chabahar. If we add our naval strength to the Indian government, China will feel enormous pressure.”
“All right. Can you contact the Iranian and Indian governments and reflect our intention to use the port of Chabahar as our military port? If they agree, we will deploy more Aegis destroyers.”
“What? You want to buy more Aegis destroyers?”
“I’m thinking of buying three more.”
“Well, it’s exciting except that they cost a lot.”
“Since we still have enough money from President Nazarbayev’s slush funds, shall we order a multi-purpose landing ship?”
“What? Do you mean the light aircraft carrier?”
A multi-purpose landing ship was a warship that could carry landing forces, helicopters, tanks, and high-speed landing. Youngho and Jong-il decided that such a vessel was needed in order to pressure China. After discussing over which country to place the order this time, they tentatively decided to pick the Danish Shipyard.
As Kazakhstan was spying on China, China also sent a number of intelligence sources around Central Asia to monitor neighboring countries.
It was self-evident that the movements of Kazakhstan would be reported to the mainland by the minute, and based on that information, China’s operations would change from time to time.
The cooperation with India at the Pamir Plateau in fighting against China now did not mean much after learning that China was not in a position to escalate the conflict along the Indian border. So, Jong-il had an idea to take advantage of that situation. It was to spread false rumors.
So, the intelligence agents of Kazakhstan began to spill the official cooperation with India little by little. Cooperation with India was leaking in a clever yet manipulative way, being treated as if it were a great secret so that China would believe.
“Let the Indian government know in advance to avoid any misunderstanding.”
“I’ve already informed the Indian intelligence service. The Indian government doesn’t mind.”
“We have also decided to withdraw most of the troops from the plateau and leave only a few on the alert. We figured that we don’t have to tremble in Pamir in the snow.”
“I already heard that from In-soo and Chul-hwan. They were proud that it was their idea.”
“Hahaha… Yeah, they said you’d have thought the same.”
“It’s actually a great idea. You don’t have to let our soldiers crouch in the cold for weeks. They can wait for the Chinese forces to come relaxingly and welcome them with artillery fires when they cross the border.”
“China may not ever come this winter.”
“What are you talking about? The Chinese military is reportedly encouraging its soldiers, saying that China will claim the territory within this winter.”
It was absurd for China to claim its ownership over the Pamir Plateau as it had been the land of Central Asian people since the beginning of history. China was irrelevant to it.
“That’s funny. Since when Pamir has been China’s?”
“To be honest, no one has ever been the master of the Pamir Plateau or the Tian Shan Mountains. The first one to claim it was the owner. In fact, Pamir was a place shared by Uyghurs and Tajiks.”
“You don’t mean to make a moderate compromise and share it, like the island in the Persian Gulf?”
“What’s so great about Pamir to share? I think it’s best to leave it as a buffer zone.”
Park Jong-il’s view of the border dispute on the Pamir Plateau was very casual. He did not understand the fuss about the barren land that was hard for humans to live.
Mountain goats, wolves, and snow leopards were the owners of Pamir. In the first place, it was a place that refused people walking in. It was a miracle in itself that the nomads lived there.
Youngho wondered what kind of rough situation had pushed them to come to Pamir to live. If they were driven to the heights where a short walk would get them breathless, they would have been in the period when the logic of power dominated the world.
It would be a great sin of mankind if the smell of gunpowder would fill the well-preserved Pamir Plateau, and if China took over the place, it would exploit the whole area to collect resources. For China, Pamir was just a resource treasure.
This was one reason that Youngho could not yield the Pamir Plateau to China.
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