The Art of Crisis Prevention: Maritime Security in the Red Sea & the Gulf of Aden

14. Februar 2020   ·   PeaceLab editorial team

At this year’s Munich Security Conference, a special PeaceLab is taking place for the second time: a diplomatic table top exercise during which participants are invited to test different strategies for regional and international actors to work together on maritime security in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.



The Art of Crisis Prevention: Maritime Security in the Red Sea & the Gulf of Aden

How can regional and international stakeholders work together when there are plenty of different interests and objectives at stake, each involving dilemmas and tradeoffs? A PeaceLab political-military table top exercise helps senior leaders from the newly established Council of Arab and African Littoral States of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (AARSGA) and key external stakeholders in maritime security in the region, such as the EU, US, China, India and Japan, to explore their strategic options.

The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden are situated within local, regional and international interests. Regional stability is threatened by the on-going war in Yemen, continued violence in Somalia as well as significant, but also volatile transitions in Sudan and Ethiopia, whose outcome is yet to be seen. Further, the Gulf States have heavily invested into the Horn in recent years, further deepening the imbalance between the two shores of the Red Sea, and risk making the Horn the scene of Gulf-internal rivalries. Adding to these regional elements is the fact that the area is heavily militarized with a cluster of international military bases in the Horn. International interests above all stems from the fact that 10% of global trade passes through the Red Sea each year, from the Suez channel in the North, and Bab el-Mandeb strait in the South to the Gulf of Aden and into the Indian Ocean. Safe passage is threatened by pirates mostly based in Somalia. 

The table top exercise takes the creation of AARSGA as a starting point and aims at testing the different ways in which AARSGA can work with international stakeholders, taking the field of maritime security and, more specifically, piracy as an example.

The exercise is hosted by the German Foreign Office and GPPi with Mina Al-Oraibi, editor-in-chief of The National providing input. Two dozen high-ranking diplomats, think tankers and experts are participating, many of them from the Red Sea region itself.

The Art of Crisis Prevention: Maritime Security in the Red Sea & the Gulf of Aden