Israeli strategy to occupy Bab Al-Mandab Strait [Archives:2008/1201/Opinion]

October 23 2008

Najeeb Al-Ghurbani
The first President of the Zionist government David Goryon expressed his state's aspirations to control the Red Sea in 1949. He rather said, “We are besieged from land frontiers while sea is the only passage to the outside world and the only means for establishing communication with other continents.”

The Zionist President indicated that development of Eclat will be a primary objective, which our efforts are progressing toward achieving it. The Arab states overlooking the Red Sea felt they are at risk, which is the main reason why Egypt cooperated with Saudi Arabia in 1950 for the sake of granting numerous islands of strategic significance to the former in order to control entrance to Al-Aqaba Gulf.

The two islands, Teran and Sanafeer have become under the Egyptian military control with the aim of restricting the Israeli navigation activities. Such a procedure was taken as part of a package of Arab actions to prevent expansion of the Israeli occupation, thereby leading to the three-side aggression against Egypt in 1956.

When Egypt imposed a blockade on the Zionist state by occupying the Al-Aqaba Gulf, which was the primary reason behind war against both Egypt and Syria in June 5, 1967. The Zionist state launched a wider military operation, via which it occupied other new Arab lands.

At that time, the Arab states overlooking the Red Sea realized the potential risk threatening their security and stability. They also realized how important the Red Sea is to the Arab strategy, particularly in the Bab Al-Mandab Strait, which constituted a vital location for serving as a point of contact between the Zionist State, and Africa and Southeast Asia.

During the time period 1970 – 1973, the Zionist State increased its activities in the Red Sea, thus posing a real threat to states of the region, while Yemen prepared itself within this time period as a party in the Arab-Israeli conflict. That was evident through a position adopted by the Yemeni policy during the wars that took place between the Arabs and Israel.

During a meeting at the Arab League, Yemen presented the Zionist activities along the Eritrean coastline and in the vicinity of Bab Al-Mandab Strait. As a result, the Arab League exerted precious efforts in this regard, thereby discovering that the Zionist State is renting from Ethiopia the Abu Al-Tair, Halib and Dahlak islands and the lease was made in cooperation with the United States.

Yemen and other states overlooking the Red Sea were invited to a conference in the Saudi city of Jeddah on July 15, 1972 and on July 11, 1973 during which participants discovered an espionage network in the Tarim Island near Bab Al-Mandab Strait.

The espionage network was in charge of collecting information about southern entrance to the Red Sea and monitoring any Israeli ships, as well as protecting them and ensuring them safe voyages through Bab Al-Mandab Strait.

On Oct. 6, 1973, the Egyptian and Syrian armies attacked Israel, and an Arab coordination was conducted for the first time in order to ensure the Arabs' right to embody their sovereignty over their territorial waters, most notably the Red Sea. That was also followed by closure of the Bab Al-Mandab Strait on the face of the Zionist state, and therefore Yemen sent troops to several islands in the Red Sea to prevent any an Israeli attempt aimed at occupying the islands.