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Usually, when people talk about Saudi Arabia and its hegemonic policies, we tend to relate to the well-known rivalry between the monarchy and Iran, two capillary actors in the Middle East, who compete for the leadership in the region.

Recently, Riyadh has shown a deeper interest in other areas, such as the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa. The strategic importance of these areas is widely recognised: around 13% of the world’s global trade flows across the Red Sea, which is connected to the south to the Strait of Bab al-Mandeb, an 18-mile chokepoint that handles around 4.8 million barrels a day of crude oil and refined petroleum products directed to Europe, USA and Asia. To the north, there is the Suez Canal, which connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and allows 4 million barrels of oil and refined products to flow on a daily base.

Moreover, the Horn of Africa is rich in natural and human resources: hydropower and hydrocarbons have the same importance today as coal and steel in the industrialised Europe of the 1930s. The highlands of Ethiopia have a hydropower basin able to provide electricity to the entire region; oil and gas are also abundantly present in every country. However, infrastructure and investment are lacking, partly because of the instability and insecurity that dominate the region. Indeed, deep internal fractures and political instability plague several countries (including Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan), jihadist terrorism finds fertile ground for its expansion, Somali piracy threatens trade and security of the entire area and the war in Yemen worsens this already volatile scenario.

In recent years, the Saudi monarchy,  together with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has undertaken several projects in the area, to encourage regional cooperation and increase security conditions. If this general aim is true, it is also true that Riyadh has its own interest in intervening in this area. Recent events have, in fact, led King Salman to undertake new strategic paths. In the last period, we have seen Iran strengthening its position at the regional and global levels. Moreover, the killing of the journalist Khashoggi, the open criticisms of the US (with the exception of President Trump) and the accusations of the CIA against the Saudi sovereign have thrown a veil of uncertainty over the historic alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia.

Not to forget the latest decisions in Washington’s foreign policy, such as the withdrawal from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) or the imminent withdrawal of troops from Syria that have floored its allies, especially in the region. Hence, if in past Saudi Arabia – and the other Middle Eastern countries – could count on the presence of the US Navy 5th Fleet in the Red Sea, today this guarantee would no longer be so granted.

These considerations and the desire to extend its influence in other territories, have pushed Saudi Arabia towards the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea, aiming to develop its own security doctrine. This new doctrine would include collaboration with different partners, such as the UAE and other nations of the MENA region.

Thus, Red Wave 1 took place, a series of military exercises carried out in the Red Sea, attended by numerous countries including Jordan, Egypt, Somalia, Djibouti, Yemen and Sudan, as well as Saudi Arabia. Thanks to the military assets provided by these nations, the exercise involved various naval units, as well as Typhoon-type fighter jets and units used for shooting air and naval targets.

The main objective of this project is certainly to improve the security of an artery of international trade, but also to strengthen the naval defence of neighbouring countries, protect regional waters, promote military cooperation and the exchange of expertise and know-how among the participants.  In addition, among the active projects along the Red Sea coast, there is a commercial area of $ 500 billion shared with Jordan and Egypt and the construction of luxury resorts, future tourist destinations.

Citing the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir “This is part of the Kingdom’s effort to protect its interests and those of its neighbours and … to establish the region that we live in and to try to create synergies between the various countries “. Furthermore, if cooperation between the countries of the region increases, the interference and negative influence by external actors may decrease.

In conclusion, from a Saudi perspective, interest in Africa has a triple rationale: to lay the foundations of a new national security strategy; to project its power and influence into vital strategic territories, thus increasing national prestige and its image as a leading player in the region; to limit the interference of third parties, especially Western players. Saudi Arabia will then act as an alternative to the big powers that usually dominate the world scene, gaining a leading position also at the international level.


Paola Fratantoni


CAR: outbreak of violence in Bangui

in AFRICA/Senza categoria by

BANGUI – At least 135 people have been injured in the worst outbreak of violence in years in the Central African Republic’s capital, aid agencies said on Friday, straining hospital trauma centres. At least 21 people died in clashes this week when United Nations peacekeepers and local security forces battled armed groups in Bangui’s PK5 neighbourhood – a Muslim enclave of the majority Christian city – over three days, a local official said. 

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said it had treated 83 people since the weekend at a hospital and a health centre, while the Red Cross said 52 injured had arrived at another hospital.It is the worst violence seen in the capital since 2015, said MSF’s operational manager William Hennequin.”We are worried to see such level of violence and the impact it could have outside Bangui,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 

The head of U.N. peacekeeping said civilians killed were young people who had been “manipulated” and armed by criminal gangs to confront the peacekeepers and Central African Republic forces. 

Bria, at least 8 people taken hostage by some ex-Séléka

in AFRICA by

BRIA – In Bria, in the Prefecture of Haute-Kotto (east), eight members of a mission of awareness on peace and social cohesion would be held in hostage by an ex-Seleka group since April 11, in reaction to the disorders which have broken out in Bangui. 

The information gathered by RNL state that the sub-prefect of Yalinga, Edmond Sacko, and the two major responsible for Bria’s town hall would be among the victims of this abduction. Other sources state that there are also agents of the international ONG Oxfam working in the region among the hostages. 

When the mission was returning to Bria, 12 members have been abducted by a general ex-seleka and its group; of these, 4 would have been released on April 12. In Bangui, neither Minusca neither the authorities have still reacted to this abduction. 

Gabon announces its retreat from the mission of the UN in CAR


BANGUI – Gabon has announced, on Thursday 8 March, his intention to withdraw his 450 soldiers from the mission of the United Nations in Central African Republic, Minusca, according to what brought by a relationship of the Council of ministers. Gabon, that has 444 soldiers unfolded in the Minusca, has participated in the strengths U.N. in CAR since 2014.

The soldiers of Gabon in CAR has been quoted in cases of accusations of sexual abuses. At the end of 2016, the gabonese government has announced the opening of investigations after the identification from the United Nations of fifteen soldiers suspected to have committed sexual violences in 2014 and in the 2015.
On Monday, the president of central Africa, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, has come to Libreville to discuss of the “bilateral cooperation” among the two countries.

“The United Nations respect the choice of the government of the Gabon; we have held some discussions on the withdrawal within a reasonable term” answered to AFP Herve Verhoosel manager of the communication of the mission of the United Nations in Bangui. Verhoosel has remembered that the appointment of States members in an operation of maintenance of the peace it is “a voluntary exercise” and that the contribution of the Gabon has been “very appreciated.”

Fresh sanctions on Hezbollah


The Trump administration announced today that a new session on Hizbullah will be held in Africa and the Middle East; in particular, the Treasury Department has announced that it has seen a network of companies and individuals in Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia and other countries connected to the Hezbollah financier, Adham Tabaja. Difficulties block US activities and prevent Americans from doing business with one of the people and seven companies. According to one of the officials, with this move Trump aims not only to limit the operations of the terrorist group, but also a pressure on Iran by hindering the increase in its influence in the region.

China races to beat gas supply crunch as big chill and Lunar New Year loom


The Chinese authorities have reinforced the gas supplies in sight of expected heating spike over the holidays, to avoid a repeat of December’s chaos, which saw serious supply shortages. To ensure supplies before the longest holiday in the Chinese calendar, some 60 ships carrying more than 4 million tonnes of LNG are on their way to China this month, the third highest total behind December’s 5.1 million and November’s 4.36 million tonnes. The shipments are coming from unusual origins, Equatorial Guinea and Angola in Africa, Peru in South America, and Trinidad and Tobago, and several are also coming from the United States. Domestic producers are also churning out more gas. China’s December gas output was the highest since at least 2014. The urgency for gas has lifted Chinese prices by 15-18 per cent within a week to 6,650 yuan (US$1,039.87) per tonne.

Four Macron’s ideas for Africa


According to the article in few years the African continent will start an economic revival and Macron, who knows the continent because he has lived and worked there, has announced that he will start his tour in Africa on November 28, when he will speak to students in Ouagadougou. The aim is to involve them in a new process that will be focused in four main pillars. The first one is about the possibility of a rapid growth for Africa, the second regards France and the importance to take in consideration all the continent and not only francophone Countries, the third is about a development in the French institution. It will be achieved through a provision with which the affairs regarding African issue will be included in the activity of all ministers. The last one is about Europe and Africa and the need for the EU to open its own borders to the other continent.

African Summit for Combating Heart Diseases in Khartoum.


The African Summit for Combating Heart Diseases in Africa will start tomorrow at the Friendship Hall in Khartoum. The summit will be chaired by the world heart association in order to design policies and plans related to these problems in the African continent and will be attended by the African health ministers, the services providers and the World Health Organization.


Adama Dieng arrived in Bangui to analyze the situation of CAR


Adama Dieng, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide for the UN, arrived today in Bangui and will analyze the situation of CAR for a week to fully understand if we can talk about genocide in CAR. Then, UN Secretary-General will be in Bangui from 24 to 27 October to intervene as a promoter of human dignity.


The police station of Baboua was attacked last night


Last night, the inhabitants of Baboua (100 km far from Bouar) were woken up by gunfire. It seems that an Anti-Balaka group assaulted the police station of the city and that the population fled in the direction of bushes.

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