10 January 2018

Africa: Alert - Red Sea Fury Reaches Sharp Peak

The political crisis along the Red Sea seems to have reached to its peak with the worsening crisis in Yemen, the ISIS militant's new base in Sinai and Libya, the intervention of Egyptian military commanders to Sawa Military Base in Eritrea and continued Saudi-led forces coalition operation in Yemen.

The increased presence of world great powers and opening of new military bases in the region as well as the new marriage between Saudi and Egypt have now grabbed the eyes and ears of political analysts in the Horn of Africa which is considered as the most important part for its geopolitical location.

Furthermore, Sudan has closed its borders and moved troops recently to the eastern parts bordering with Eritrea. It is also accusing neighboring Egypt for its provocation to clashes, training Sudanese anti government rebel groups and Eritrean militants.

These days, the increased interest of countries to open military and naval bases along the Red Sea needs a vigil look says Aksum University Political Science and International Relations Lecturer Kahsay Gebrehiwot.

Kahsay goes to say that these countries are not building industrial zones but strengthening their military base. This leads the region to increasing competition among the various powers, and eventually to an obvious turmoil.

Yemen is in sever crisis; several religious institutions have been destructed. About 80 percent of its population has been receiving food and non-food aid, says Horn of Africa Political Analyst Kahsay Gebreyesus.

He added Yemen is divided by race, religion and thought. And particularly, the religious dissimilarity between Shia and Sunni and the absence of political system that can accommodate these two dichotomies, is leading the country to the worst state failure.

"Yemen is presently the potential safe haven for militants and pirates similar to that were in Somalia."

Thus, the incidents in Yemen during the last three years created rift to foreign intervention, the Saudi-led Military Coalition begun to undertake operations. Presently, the political chaos between Iran-led Shai and Saudi-led Sunni has been deepening in the region, he adds.

Implication to the Horn of Africa

According to the Analyst, the Shia and Sunni Arabs friction has not merely religious reasonThe Red Sea is very much sensitive for its geopolitical and economic importance. This is not only important for these two rival groups but for the world's most powerful states as well.

"The transport of goods from China to Europe transfers to Pacific Ocean to Indian Ocean via the Red Sea to Mediterranean Sea. Market products from Europe pass through this route in bulk. The largest amount of oil movement is made through the same way to Europe. Thus, the region is important to China, European countries and Russia and America as well. Half of the world's population economic movements are made through the route."

Solely China transacts goods which accounts for over trillion USD via the Red Sea per annum. Therefore, the region which is very close to the Horn of African countries including Ethiopia has the highest geopolitical importance. This has great meaning to Saudi, Iran and all major powers in the world and to Ethiopia as well, he adds.

He said: "The recent agreement made between Russia and Egypt to use the military airport of Egypt and the decision of Egypt to provide two islands in the Red Sea Coast to Saudi though faced opposition from the public are intended to control the neck of the Red Sea strip to the Suez Canal and behind the side of Saudi there is America's interest.

The sum of the opening of naval bases and military camps alongside the Red Sea is targeted towards ensuring the national interest of respective countries involved in the route, the Lecturer also seconds.

"In addition there is also Anti-Western sentiments in the region. Very recently, ISIS has been dropped from Syria and Iraq but broadly based in Sinai and Libya. This has to affect the interest of America, Israel and Egypt," the analyst describes.

As to him, the Eritrean government could not control all areas of the Red Sea in its territory. It is easy for those pirates, insurgent groups and militants from Sinai and Libya and/or Saudi Arabia backed forces to control some parts out of this area. And this could be another means of destabilizing the region and Ethiopia in particular, the great power and relatively stabilized country in the region.

It is great danger to Ethiopia if it could be used for the expansion of Arab Islamization Project. The Eritrean regime had been training Al-Shabaab. Egypt has been trying to use the rift to get access to the Horn of Africa region to weaken Ethiopia, both agreed.

Clearly this is happening now as Egyptian military commanders are training troops of Eritrea, UAE, and rebel groups of Sudan vis-a-vis doing intelligence works, the Analyst Kahsay further states.

"The Saudi military strategy clearly stipulated that it has an intention of controlling and influencing the region up to supporting Muslim communities in case of attacks even forcefully penetrating to the host countries."

The movement of each state towards the region touches the economic and security interest of Ethiopia and tauten its international relations, Kahsay adds.

What should be done?

The Analysts say that Ethiopia has accurate foreign and national security policy and strategy. It is scientific and to right way that created smooth relations in the African Continent and the globe.

Both the Analyst and the Instructor say that the development, democratization, peace and stability efforts at home matters more to protect Ethiopia's national interest in the Red Sea which is also the main route of its in-and-out business.

The walk way to positively impact and influence the region is the level of development and prosperity in the internal, Kahsay says.

Well studied and scientific mass participation needed, they recommend.

Each of Ethiopian wealth shall be entered in to the massive investment engagements in the hinterland besides the high influx of foreign direct investment (FDI) and this could be the base for the nation's economic development which has been registering fastest economic growth in the world during the last decades, according to the Analyst.

The government has yet to go to ensuring economic advancement in the country so that it can reduce the vulnerability of the nation to foreign challenges thereby keep its national interest.

The establishment of independent strategic study centers and institutions to deal with such issues and provide timely research and advisory services to the government on the areas of international relations and diplomacy are the essence of the time. .

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