Strait of Bab al-Mandab: a strategic contact point of Gulf and African Security
In recent years, there has been a growing discussion about the security of sea lanes. This is in light of the fierce clashes with terrorist groups on land, which forced them to target shipping lanes which are the main routes for the movement of world trade. Nearly two-thirds of the global oil production and 90% of global trade pass through the main straits, including the Strait of Bab Al-Mandab. Despite being one of the six main sea lanes in the world, disrupting navigation in Bab Al-Mandab means that other corridors such as the Suez Canal will also stop working. Similarly, the importance of Bab Al-Mandab lies in the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal having free navigation without any obstacles, meaning that the relationship between the three lanes are governed by mutual dependence. While global trade through shipping is increasing, maritime terrorism is also significantly increasing and this raises four questions:
1) What is the commercial and strategic importance and legal status of the Strait of Bab Al-Mandeb?
2) What are the main threats to shipping in the strait?
3) What are the main mechanisms that can insure the safety of navigation in the Strait of Bab Al-Mandeb?
4) Are there security proposals that can lead to the strategic interdependence between the security of the Arabian Gulf and the security of African states?
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August 2017
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