Home / America / The Status of Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the Strategy of the US, the Zionist Regime and Saudi Arabia

The Status of Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the Strategy of the US, the Zionist Regime and Saudi Arabia

In terms of energy transfer, Bab-el-Mandeb is the fourth largest strait in the world. Countries of Western Asia and trans-regional powers rely on this strait to implement their strategic policies, which is due to the strategic importance of this strait.

Introduction

In terms of energy transfer, Bab-el-Mandeb is the fourth largest strait in the world. Countries of Western Asia and trans-regional powers rely on this strait to implement their strategic policies, which is due to the strategic importance of this strait.

Each West Asian country pursues and implements different objectives and strategies in the strait. For example, the US strategy in the region is twofold: a global strategy and a regional one. The only American permanent military base in Africa is located just a few miles from the strait in Djibouti and is charged with implementing American dual strategies.  Saudi Arabia’s interest in Bab-el-Mandeb Strait is energy-based and for the Zionist regime, it has military, commercial and economic significance. In the following, an account is given of the place of Bab-el-Mandeb Strait in the strategies of America, Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime.

  1. The Position of Bab-el-Mandeb Strait in the US Naval Security Strategy

U.S. Naval Strategy in the Twenty-first Century suggests that the United States should be the only naval power in the world for another century. The document notes that in order to preserve the United States’ naval power in the twenty-first century, it is necessary for America not only to have a permanent presence in sea areas in West Asia and Africa, but also to strengthen its military presence and cooperate with its allies in these areas.

One of the challenges that American forces have always faced in Bab-el-Mandeb Strait has been terrorist activities. The attack launched on American forces in this geographical area with the highest number of casualties was the one on USS COLE (DD6-67) in October 2000 by AlQaeda. As the result of this attack, 17 American marine forces were killed and 39 were injured. The terrorist attack made on Maritime Jewel, known as MV Limburg, was another challenge American marine forces faced in Bab-el-Mandeb Strait.  Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for this attack. One can also mention the KAAOT and ABOT attack. This attack was futile. The only American military base in the whole African continent is located near Bab-el-Mandeb Strait in Djibouti. This military base is called Camp Lemonier. The operation called ‘Enduring Freedom’-Horn of Africa- carried out against terrorism and piracy –was arranged in this base. This base was handed over to American forces in 2001 and it has now turned into the headquarters of American Special Forces to intervene in Yemen and Somalia. In October 2001, a fleet of Eagle F-15 airplanes was stationed in this base for the purpose of conducting air raids in Yemen.

Even if Camp Lemonier is the only permanent American military base in Africa, nevertheless Americans set up a large number of temporary bases from 2002 to 2015 to facilitate access to and reach the targets in Djibouti. The following figure shows temporary American military bases from 2002 to 2015 to provide support for the base in Djibouti.

The area of the base is 2 square KMs and the US pays 38 million dollars to Djibouti as rent. This base plays a vital role in Joint Special Operations Command and the most important counter-terrorism operations are planned and executed in this base. About 3200 American army and intelligence officers serve on this base. The American Department of Defense has submitted a plan to the Congress about the purposes for which the base could be used for the next 25 years. In the plan, it has been pointed out that it is necessary to invest 1.4 billion dollars to develop the base in Djibouti. If this is accomplished, 1100 American Special Forces will be stationed in the base, increasing the number of personnel to 4300.

Following the Al-Qaeda attack on the American Airlines in Somalia in 2010, this base was put to a new use too, which was using the base to fly drones. The American Department of Defense continually submits emergency contracts to the Congress to develop the base. For example, 62 million dollars has been spent on the development of runways around the base.

On this base, for the purpose of increased efficiency and improved targeting by drones, an information website and a database called “Matrix Paya” or known by the codename “play book” have been set up. It helps drones to better monitor and destroy their targets.

All the drones and their operations are planned, controlled and executed in New Mexico and by the American Air Force in Nevada, 8,000 miles away. Every day, 18 drones and 4 fighter jets take off from the runway in the base to carry out military operations. Every month, 1,666 flights are conducted in the base, two times those of 2011. In Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, 30% of air raids are carried out by drones. In addition, one of the American secret operations, codenamed as “Copper Dune” was carried out against Yemenis from this base. Thus, at the time being, Camp Lemonier has turned into a spying and military center in the region. America has used, and will continue to use, this base to exercise its power on the strait. This base serves as a backbone for both global and regional US plans to counter global and regional powers.

  1. The place of Bab-el-Mandeb Strait for Energy Security in the World

American Energy Information Office has reported that the transit of crude oil from Bab-el-Mandeb Strait has dramatically increased over the last few years. In 2010, every day, 2.7 million barrels of oil passed Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. However, this rose to 4.7 million barrels in 2014. 20% of Iraq’s crude oil export to EU and 18% of world liquid gas production (exported from Western Asia, especially Qatar) goes through this strait to reach Europe. It is necessary to point out that Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, as compared with other straits such as Strait of Malacca (between Malaysia and Indonesia in Southeast Asia) and Hormuz Strait (in Persian Gulf) is considered as a second-rate strait. Bab-el-Mandeb Strait is also vital for Sumed Pipeline. Sumed Pipeline, which is to go through Suez Canal, is a substitute for oil export through the Persian Gulf. In terms of energy security, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait is the fourth largest strait in the world and any breach in its security will have grave consequences for both energy market and shipping industry.

Saudi Arabia’s attack on Yemen was also prompted by energy concerns. This has been pointed out in the WikiLeaks documents leaked out in the American Embassy in Yemen. According to one of the documents, “A British diplomat based in Yemen has told an American political officer that Saudi Arabia plans to construct a pipeline reaching Hazarmut, (a city close to the Gulf of Aden). Saudi Arabia will own, exploit and safeguard this pipeline so that it could circumvent Persian Gulf, Hormuz Strait and Iran. Ali Abdullah Saleh was opposed to this pipeline and Saudi Arabia wants to make sure that his successor will guarantee the construction of this pipeline”.

The Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs has also pointed out that the US is pressuring Gulf States to work on alternative shipping routes for Persian Gulf. To accomplish this, Saudi Arabia is cooperating with Al-Qaeda in Yemen so that Ansarullah cannot dominate Yemen. At the time being, Hazarmut is in the control of Al-Qaeda terrorists and Saudi Arabia never bombards this area.

  1. The Strategic Importance of Bab-el-Mandeb Strait for Saudi Arabia, the US and the Zionist Regime

In the Bush era, the US adopted the energy policy of independence from Western Asia. According to him, if the US does not import any energy from Western Asia, it is not necessary for the US to pay hefty amounts of money to provide its security. However, security of energy and world economy are of high significance to the Americans. The coalition of the US, Saudi Arabia and western countries are contemplating alternative routes such as Bab-el-Mandeb Strait to circumvent Hormuz Strait. That is why Yemen, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and Horn of Africa have become strategically important for Iran. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and the US consider the increased presence of Iran in Yemen and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait as a threat against Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. Given that Iran has become powerful, if Iran comes to control Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, as it does Persian Gulf already, all the alternative routes which Gulf countries are contemplating will be doomed to failure and their strategies will be in vein.

In a message to Yemeni Ansarullah, Hassan Nasrallah has pointed out that it is necessary for Ansarullah to have full control of Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. Saudis and Americans take the message by Hassan Nasrallah quite serious. In reaction to this speech, Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister, has said that both the US and Saudi Arabia are trying to disarm Houthis in Yemen because if Ansarullah is equipped with heavy weaponry, this could have grave consequences for the security of Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. That is why Saudi Arabia bombarded Ansarullah’s arsenal first. In a like manner, the Americans are putting into practice a plan in the Indian Ocean to circumvent China and decrease its influence. In Western Asia, they are trying to conduct a similar plan.

The Zionist Regime is not directly involved in the war in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia. However, it is extremely concerned about Houthis’ controlling Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. For Saudi Arabia and the US, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait has strategic, geopolitical and energy-related importance. For the Zionist Regime, this strait has military as well as commercial importance. This is because for the Zionist Regime, losing Bab-el-Mandeb Strait means losing access to the Indian Ocean.

The Zionist Regime passes its nuclear submarines, i.e. Dolphin Class Submarines, through this strait. These submarines will be utilized against Iran as a second strike by the Zionist Regime if Iran strikes first. The Zionist Regime intends to station Dolphin Class Submarines close to Iran’s borders in Persian Gulf. It has been said that these submarines have already been stationed in Bahrain’s shores and according to the Zionist Regime, the close proximity of these submarines to Iran’s shores has allowed the Zionist Regime to strike Iran if Iran strikes first.

Nowadays, the Zionist Regime has put into practice circumferential policies for its military forces, especially its Marine Forces. Consistent with this policy, in order to counter the threats by the Arab countries, it must have an eye on the countries in Western Asia, like Horn of Africa. As to the interaction with Western Asia, the Zionist Regime has three scenarios as the vision for 2023: 1. Confrontation Scenario 2. Scenario of Fast Reaction to Threats and 3. Scenario of Compromise. Even if the Zionist Regime has politically gained the support of the Arab countries, in practice, in no ways does it rely on them. Since Mushe Dayan, the Zionist Regime has always focused on marine power. Mushe Dayan stated that even if the Zionist Regime had become a marine power in Western Asia (in the 1960s), this holds true in seas close to the country, but not in the seas far away and that it is necessary for the Zionist Regime to promote its power and set up military bases in these areas. The first choice for promoting its power and influence has been in Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. That is why it has contacted and has developed relations with Ethiopia. In the 60s, backed by the Zionist Regime, Ethiopia managed to push back Eritrean Freedom Front. In return, General Ben Liu asked Ethiopia to give the full control of Dahlak Archipelago (in present Eritrea) to Israel. This request was granted by the Ethiopian Government. It is not clear yet to which uses the Zionist Regime has put, or will put, Dahlak Archipelago . However, the consensus is that it is using it to promote its policies in Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. According to some reports, the Zionist Regime has set up a submarine base in Ethiopia. As pointed out already, nobody can deny the close relationship between the Zionist Regime and Ethiopia. Since then, the Zionist Regime has used Dahlak Archipelago as a base to organize military, intelligence, spying, and covert operations against other countries and regions.

In addition to strategic and military importance, which was pointed out already, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait has economic and commercial importance for the Zionist Regime. About 20% of all the Zionist Regime’s commercial activities are carried out through this strait. By relying on this strait, the Zionist Regime can conduct its commercial activities with Australia, Africa, and Asia. In order to accomplish its objectives, it has developed diplomatic relations with most African countries to create division between the African Continent and Arab countries.

Conclusion

The strategic importance of Bab-el-Mandeb Strait for Saudi Arabia generally centers around energy. For this purpose, it is trying to reduce the strategic importance of Hormuz Strait and decrease its reliance on this strait by constructing a pipeline of 1200 KMs. This strategy is so significant for Saudi Arabia that it has been considered as one of Saudi Arabia’s motives to attack Yemen. Both Saudi Arabia and the US are afraid of confronting Iran in Hormuz Strait. This has clearly been reflected in the documents of the Department of State, recently released. Thus, they try to indirectly stop Iran’s increased power and strengthened position in the region by focusing on Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and circumventing Persian Gulf and Hormuz Strait.

The strategic objective of the Zionist Regime as far as the countries close to Bab-el-Mandeb Strait are concerned is to put an end to the influence of the countries close to Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and ridding the strait of the effects of the Arabs in the region. Pushing Arabs out of Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and ending their influence have helped the Zionist Regime to turn this strait into a secure path for accomplishing its long-term and strategic policies.

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