The Red Sea and the adjacent Gulf of Aden face many potential threats to free movement, ranging from the presence of non-state armed groups (such as the Houthis in Yemen) and organised crime outfits, to ongoing territorial disputes and environmental concerns. Yet maritime traffic has largely gone undisrupted in recent years.
The hitherto safe passageway of the Red Sea should not be taken for granted though, and the area has attracted significant geopolitical interest. New initiatives concerned with the shared maritime space are being conceived, including a Red Sea Forum championed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The African Union (AU) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are also taking a greater interest. All these actors aim to address a perceived gap in management of the Red Sea space.
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