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Prospects Of A Red Sea Cooperative Council 

Google map of the Red Sea and the region

By Kidane Alemayehu 

Following The Opening Of The Suez Canal In 1869 The Red Sea Has Become One Of The  Most Important Sea Lanes In The Whole World. Billions Of Dollars Worth Of Goods Including  Oil Are Being Transported Through The Red Sea Which Facilitates Quite A Robust Trade  Between The West On The One Hand And The Middle East And Asia In General On The Other  Hand. 

What Is, However, Easily Noticeable Is The Fact That The Countries Adjacent To The Red Sea, Particularly Those On The African Side Are Mere Observers Of This Huge Trade Flowing  Relentlessly In Front Of Their Noses But Are Not Part Of It In Any Meaningful Manner.  

For All Intents And Purposes, The Red Sea Is, As Far As The Adjacent Countries Are Concerned, A Huge Ocean Keeping Them Apart Instead Of Serving As A Medium Of  Collaboration And Mutual Support. Unlike The Arab Gulf Cooperative Council Which  Brings Together Arab Countries Adjacent To The Persian Gulf, The Red Sea Is Being Utilized  Merely As A Trade Sea Lane For The Rich And The Powerful In The West, Asia And Australia. 

Potential Benefits For Collaboration 

Immense Benefits Could Accrue To All The Countries Surrounding The Red Sea Only If The  Governments Were To Come Together And Chart Out An Appropriate Strategy And Action Plan  To Make Full Use Of The Huge Resources That The Region As A Whole Could Offer For The  Benefit Of Their Peoples Currently Totaling 200 Million And Increasing To Over 400 Million  In 20 Years. 

Among The Potential Benefits Of Collaborating In The Context Of A Red Sea Cooperative  Council, The Following Could Be Sited As Examples: 

(A) The Existing Mutually Advantageous Resources Among The Adjacent Countries E.G.  Oil And Investment On The Arab Side And Agricultural, Mineral, Water, And Human  Resources On The African Side Could Be Exploited For A Common Advantage; 

(B) The Mostly Underdeveloped Eleven Sea Ports Around The Red Sea Could Be  Upgraded To Provide, Similar To Dubai, Singapore, Etc. International Standard  Maritime Service Thereby Bringing In Increased Trade And Employment; 

(C) The Utilization Of The Red Sea For Common Advantages Would Render It A Region Of  Peace Instead Of The Current Situation Which Has Made It An Area Of Serious  Potential Dangers Involving, On The One Hand, France, Israel And The United States,  And Iran On The Other Hand; 

(D) The Peace And Stability That Could Prevail As A Result Of A Sustainable Collaboration  Among The Countries Adjacent To The Red Sea Could Go A Long Way In Alleviating  The Current State Of Conflict, Grinding Poverty, And Endemic Diseases Such As  Malaria And Tb;

(E) The Underdeveloped But Huge Resources Especially On The African Side Such As  Water, Agriculture, Minerals, And The Environment Could Be Put To A Better  Advantage For The Benefit Of The Region’s People As Well As For The International  Community; 

(F) Effective Utilization Of The Region’s Resources As Well As The Achievement Of Peace  And Stability In The Region Could Relieve The International Community From The  Perennial Demands For Financial And Other Assistance; 

(G) The Achievement Of A Sustainable Development Through An Integrated Or A Holistic  Development Strategy That Spans All The Countries In The Horn Of Africa (Djibouti,  Eritrea, Ethiopia And Somalia) As Well As Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, And The  Yemen Would Bring About A Level Of Prosperity That Would, Among Other Things,  Avoid Making The Region A Breeding Ground For International Terrorism. 

Factors Mitigating Against Collaboration  

There Are, Unfortunately, Serious Underlying Constraints Mitigating Against A Meaningful  Collaboration Among The Countries Adjacent To The Red Sea. The Constraints Are So  Inhibiting That The Whole Idea Of Collaboration In The Region Appears, At Least At This Stage,  Highly Speculative And A Virtual Pie In The Sky. Such A Line Of Thinking, However, Merely  Subscribes To The Current State Of Affairs In Which Countries In The Region Continue To Be At  Loggerheads Among Each Other Thereby Perpetuating Conflict And Poverty. 

In Order To Move Towards The Higher Objective Of Collaboration In The Region, It Is Essential  To Identify The Challenges Clearly And Meet Them Headlong. Otherwise, There Would Be No  Prospects Of Achieving Peace And Development In The Region. The Underlying Challenges  Facing The Region At The Moment Include: 

(A) The Myopic Interests Of The International Community; For Instance: 

(I) China Which Is Merely Interested In Short-Term Gains: Selling Its  Services And Obtaining Some Natural Resources; 

(Ii) India Which Is Interested In Obtaining Land At Give-Away Rates In  Ethiopia; 

(Iii) The Arab Gulf Countries Which Are, In The Most, Intent On Short-Term  Gains Including Exporting Wahabism To Ethiopia; 

(Iv) Europe Which Seems To Be Interested In Keeping The Region At Bay And  Selling Its Products At A Very Minimal Level; 

(V) Usa Which Appears To Be Satisfied With Keeping The Region Under Its  Control Against International Terrorism; 

(Vi) Japan Which Is Satisfied In Selling Its Products Also At A Minimal Level; (B) The Absence Of Good Governance, Rule Of Law, And Respect For Human Rights In The  Region And The Prevalence Of A Huge System Of Corruption; 

(C) The Ineffectiveness Of The International And Regional Organizations Such As The  Un, Au, Igaad, Etc. In Dealing With The Serious Economic, Social  And Political Challenges Resulting From The Obviously Flawed Policies Of The   Various Governments;

(D) The Presence Of Leaders In The Region That Are Intent On Merely Subjugating Their  Respective People And Have No Qualms About Perpetuating A State Of Conflict With Their Neighbors.

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Editor’s Note : The Article Was First Shared On P2p Ethiopian Forum On April 26,2022

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