Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday seeking an alliance with six countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, a strategic area vital to global shipping, aiming to enhace the security, investment and development of the countries included.
Representatives from Egypt, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Jordan gathered in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss the initiative without reaching final agreement. A team of experts is expected to meet “soon” in Cairo for technical talks.
“This is part of the kingdom’s efforts to protect its interests and those of its neighbors and ... to stabilize the region that we live in and to try to create synergies between the various countries...” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters after a day of closed-door meetings.
“The more cooperation and coordination that you have among the countries of this region, the less negative outside influence will be on this region,” he said.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf ally the United Arab Emirates increasingly view the Horn of Africa coastline as their “western security flank”.
The Red Sea also includes the Bab al-Mandeb strait, through which an estimated 3.2 million barrels of oil per day flows toward Europe, the United States and Asia. In recent years the waterway has been targeted by pirates and Iran-backed Houthis from Yemen.
Jubeir said the meeting also discussed boosting trade and conserving the environment.
As part of a push to diversify its economy away from oil, Saudi Arabia has announced several mega-projects along the Red Sea, including a $500 billion business zone shared with Egypt and Jordan as well as a luxury tourism destination.