On December 12, Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh hosted the first Arab-African conference of foreign ministers of six countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, a strategic area vital to global shipping.
Representatives from Egypt, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Jordan gathered in Riyadh to discuss the initiative.
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. To the north lie the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Suez Canal. About 15 percent of global trade is made through the Red Sea.
Alfred Thayer Mahan is one of America’s leading geopolitical theorists. He was in the last wave of European imperialist expansionism and the globalization of American power. He considered sea power as the basis of national power.
In an analysis of the history of sailing, especially the global expansion of Britain, he concludes that sea domination, especially strategic straits, is essential for the existence of great powers. Based on this analysis, sea power plays a decisive role for national power and its growth.
According to Mahan’s theory, domination of the Strait of Hormuz and Bab el-Mandeb is important.
The Saudi narrative of the Riyadh Summit and the support of Saudi allies for the Red Sea regime
During the summit an agreement was made on the establishment of a legal regime for the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The objective of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden regime was to support world trade, international shipping lines, regional stability, investment and development of the member states. The plan, proposed by the King of Saudi Arabia will be implemented in pursuit of security and stability in the region.
Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announce on a December 12: Saudi Arabia agreed to establish a Red Sea regulatory regime aimed at strengthening security and investment in the Red Sea bordering countries.
According to the statement, the seven countries are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti, Yemen, Somalia, and Jordan.
The goal of this regime is to support global trade, international navigation, and security and investment and the development of the regional states. The legal regime of the Red Sea is a plan by King Salman to achieve stability in the region.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the meeting discussed boosting trade and conserving the environment.
Djibouti Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf endorsed the request made by King Salman to convene the Arab and African regimes of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, declaring that this regime is a privilege and they’ll be working to develop it.
Ali Youssouf welcomed the plan saying: We praise King Salman’s plan, a project that the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden can provide security and support for the passageways. An international passage is in place and nobody can harm it. Everyone should be in alignment with the establishment of a regime that helps enhance security.
Zayed Mofel Al-Lawei of Jordanian Foreign Ministry said the Saudi plan is important to create a regime of Arab and African states adjacent to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The foreign ministers emphasized the formation of a team of experts to review the efforts of the plan in Cairo for in the near future.
Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Hadrami, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the incumbent government of Yemen praised the Saudis.
Ahmed Isse Awad, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Somalia, said: We thank King Salman for the role they played in establishing this regime for the stability of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden region. Somalia wants Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, to be the headquarters of this regime.
Anwar Mohammed Gargash, the advisor to the Foreign Ministry of the UAE, as always praised the Saudis.
Referring to Saudi moves on the establishment of a legal regime, Gargash said: Saudi efforts are inspiring to ensure stability and cooperation in the Red Sea region, and this, in turn, is a success for diplomacy in the countries of the region.
Saudi Arabia seeks to confront Qatar and Turkey by creating this regime
Saudi Arabia’s most important goal in holding this meeting and the establishment of the regime of the Red Sea is to control the regional rivals, especially Turkey. In the same vein, the Sudanese government, as one of the Red Sea coastal countries, has recently given up the privilege of developing Suakin Island in the Red Sea to Turkey. In fact, Saudi Arabia is trying to prevent some coastal countries’ tendency towards Saudi rivals.
Due to the financial dependence that Saudi Arabia often has on the coast of the Red Sea, Al Saud is trying to prevent a Turkish regime in the coastal waters of the Red Sea by creating a legal regime
Another issue is that Saudi Arabia, with the establishment of the Red Sea legal regime, is trying to prevent the growing influence of Qatar in the coastal countries of the sea. Doha has invested heavily in the Red Sea coastal countries over the past two decades, especially during the last 18 months, and now Saudi Arabia is trying to somehow oppose these investments.
Normalizing relations with Tel Aviv, reassurance for Zionist regime security
The third point is that Saudi action in the establishment of the Red Sea coastal regime has also been linked to the Saudi approach to normalizing relations with Tel Aviv, as Israel also has access to the Red Sea.
Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, a Qatari newspaper wrote: “Given Israel’s access to the Red Sea coast, the formation of this council can be a secret measure to normalize relations with the regime.”
In other words, although Israel didn’t officially attend the Red Sea summit in Riyadh, it welcomed Saudi Arabia’s move to establish a seafront regime in the Red Sea countries.
In any case, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden regime can be called a kind of alignment between Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime, which many observers believe is to protect the interests of the US and Israel in the region.
It is noteworthy that the countries participating in this regime are mainly the countries that are present in the anti-Yemeni coalition. This regime is, in fact, a supporter of Israel, and the Saudis are contributing to this issue, especially since US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that if it were not for Saudi Arabia, Israel would have faced many challenges.
The King Salman plan is in line with the US geopolitical and economic issues in creating a complete map of the Saudi-led region. The road map is based on the disintegration of countries and destruction of the Palestinian cause in favor of the Zionist regime. The Saudis and the Emirati chant slogans on the security and stability of Yemen, but in reality, the creation of this regime of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden is in line with the security of the Zionist regime.
The announcement of a new regime by the Saudis is evidence of ongoing developments in the region and the introduction of a regional and international power struggle to control the movement of world trade. The Americans are pursuing their plans through their devices, the Saudis and the Emirate.
Riyadh’s spider’s dream against Iran
Meanwhile, analysts believe the Saudis’ acts are aligned with the Israelis against Iran. Amani El Taweel, expert of the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS) has announced to Al-Mesri news website: “The Red sea security is an important issues that has long been proposed to support its coastal countries that are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan, Jordan, and Palestine. Previously, proposals were made by the Arab League, the European Union, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and one of the major study centers in the UAE, but these proposals were not implemented.”
El Taweel claims that the absence of a system that guarantees the safety of the Red Sea and the Bab-el-Mandeb has caused interference from international parties such as Iran and Turkey to gain their interests, which has caused many problems for the coastal states of the Red Sea. In the future, the health of international trade, especially the Persian Gulf oil trade, the security of Bab al-Mandeb, the trade movement in the Suez Canal will be guaranteed to the benefit of all parties. Egypt will be the mainstay, especially as there is a strong rapprochement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia as the two major countries of the Red Sea. Iran and Turkey will seek to defeat this trend through financial and military assistance to some countries.
“Saudi Arabia’s plan to provide and stop the security threats for the Red Sea has been raised after the Iranian Red Crusade Sailing Action, Saudi Arabian Navy Nayef al-Gha’a,” said in an interview with Saudi newspaper Al Youm. He added: “Iran is threatening global trade with its attempts to infiltrate the Red Sea.”
“The Red Sea is one of the most important waterways in the world,” Ahmad Nasher, the Yemeni analyst said, adding that there are many greetings from the Portuguese to the recent era of the Israeli greek in the Red Sea and the attempt to buy the islands and the presence of the islands. In the northeast of Africa.
Cairo and Riyadh’s extreme disagreements and the empty promises of the Saudi Red Sea regime
The Egyptians won’t accept Saudi leadership in the region and are opposed to Riyadh plans. Contrary to al-Jubeir’s remark in the summit; the plan did not go far and ended without a political statement that defined the nature of the regime and its mechanism.
Saudis establishment of the regime occurs when the murder of Jamal Khashoggi still dominates the news. The Saudis are looking for their place in the region through such moves, but it seems that the Egyptians oppose it.
In addition to the severe discord between Cairo and Riyadh, Eritrea was not present in this meeting, especially as its coastal area is 1,150 kilometers. Ethiopia also didn’t attend the summit, although the country is a member of the Red Sea coastal countries.
The absence of Ethiopia in the Riyadh summit means that the establishment of the Red Sea coastal regime has not been made by consensus of all coastal states.
Additionally, differences between Sudan and Saudi Arabia, as well as Sudan’s close ties with Turkey and Qatar suggests that Saudi Arabia, through the establishment of this legal regime, cannot stop the growing trend of Turkey and Qatar’s influence in some coastal states of the Red Sea.
Aside from that, the US, China, Japan, France, Turkey, and Israel all have bases in the Red Sea and the coastal states should take these countries interests into account.
Al-Juberi speaks of security and stability of the region as well as its development and investment, however, the question here is was the Red Sea previously a region of wars or conflicts? Aren’t the Saudis dominating majority of the Red Sea?
Saudi Arabia called one of the objectives of the Riyadh summit “security” but the fact is that Riyadh and its allies over the last 45 months waged a war on Yemen that undermined security in the sea.
Riyadh’s initiation of the Red Sea regime and intervention in Yemen are over the issue of the Tiran and Sanafir islands. The agreement between the Tiran and Sanafir Islands and the transfer of its sovereignty from Egypt to Saudi Arabia guarantees the freedom of Israel’s transit in the region.
The Yemeni war is also in support of Israel in the Red Sea. Israel was concerned about the domination of Yemen’s Ansarullah over the Bab Al-Mandab, which led the Saudis to launch a war on Yemen to remove the Gulf of Aden and the Bab el-Mandeb from the reign of Ansarullah.
While the Saudis and Emiratis dominate the south entrance of the Red Sea, the agreement between Riyadh and Tel Aviv indirectly gives freedom and security to the Israelis.