Securing the world’s most dangerous Strait?: The Bab al-Mandeb and Gulf of Aden
Additional Publication Information
The Bab al-Mandeb straits and their approaches have in recent years become the world’s most dangerous waterways for shipping to traverse. The principle threat to safety of navigation in the Bab al-Mandeb and its environs, especially its eastern approaches through the Gulf of Aden, has been posed by “pirates”, predominantly based in Somalia. These waters have, however, also witnessed numerous other illegal activities at sea, including drugs, arms and people smuggling, the dumping of toxic waste, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as notable maritime terrorism attacks. These threats to safety of navigation, especially that posed by the surge in the incidence of acts of piracy and armed robbery against shipping off the Horn of Africa, have, however, led to the introduction of a range of measures designed to improve maritime security in the region and considerable recent progress has been achieved. This paper provides a brief geographical, geopolitical and maritime jurisdictional context for the Bab al-Mandeb and its proximate region. Threats to maritime security in the Bab al-Mandeb and its approaches are then outlined. The key responses to these threats and their effectiveness are then assessed. The outlook for the security of shipping passing through the Bab al-Mandeb is then examined and key trends identified.