Amid fears of foreign plan to internationalize the Red SeaYemen seeks Arab efforts to combating piracy [Archives:2008/1197/Front Page]

October 9 2008

By: Mahmoud Assamiee
SANA'A, Oct. 8 ) Yemen's efforts in combating piracy in the Red Sea has seen President Abdullah Saleh pay visits to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan over the past couple of weeks to discuss pervasive piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden.

President Saleh's visits to Jordan and Egypt from 1 to 4 October at the head of a high-ranking delegation highlighted Yemen's growing fears over a U.S.-European plan of internationalizing the Red Sea, according to a number of informed Arab and Yemeni sources.

Discussions between Yemeni President and both King Abdullah the Second of Jordan and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak reportedly focused on Yemeni worries of an increase in foreign military presence in the sea's southern outlet and the dangers it might imply.

Yemen feels that this is a premise for a project for internationalizing Red Sea waters proposed by Israel years ago but which faced strong Arab rejection.

During his visits, Saleh introduced a Yemeni plan to counter this eventuality to the Jordanian and the Egyptian leaders. The plan had already been discussed with King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz during the Yemeni president's recent visit to Saudi Arabia.

Yemeni aims to coordinate the efforts of countries bordering the Red Sea to face possible foreign intervention to internationalize the Red Sea and the Bab Al-Mandab strait, under the pretext of piracy within its waters.

The countries that overlook the Red Sea are Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan, Djibouti, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel.

Last month, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Abdullah Al-Kurbi stressed the significance of coordinating efforts to counter increasing piracy in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to guarantee the safety of international navigation in the area.

Speaking to the Yemen Times, Professor of Political Sciences in Sana'a University Abdullah al-Faqih said piracy was a Yemeni issue limited to the Bab al-Mandab Strait and Gulf of Aden which should in no way involve the internationalization of the Red Sea.

“Yemen has completely failed to face marine piracy in its waters because of its lack of marine forces and the vast area of the Gulf of Aden