The Red Sea Region: Local Actors and the Superpowers

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Since the late 1970s the Red Sea has become extremely important both in international politics and regional affairs. This situation came about because of the growing Soviet presence in the Horn of Africa and Saudi efforts to have the Red Sea treated as an ‘Arab Lake’. This book, first published in 1985, examines the development of the Red Sea as a significant problem in superpower relations and assesses its relative importance in the context of other conflicts in the Gulf and elsewhere in the Third World. It ...

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Overview

Since the late 1970s the Red Sea has become extremely important both in international politics and regional affairs. This situation came about because of the growing Soviet presence in the Horn of Africa and Saudi efforts to have the Red Sea treated as an ‘Arab Lake’. This book, first published in 1985, examines the development of the Red Sea as a significant problem in superpower relations and assesses its relative importance in the context of other conflicts in the Gulf and elsewhere in the Third World. It analyses Soviet interests in the Red Sea area and examines its record in seeking to intervene in the domestic politics of the region. The book also discusses the degree of regional stability in the Red Sea both in terms of inter-Arab relations and Afro-Arab regulations. This issue is considered against the background of the security of the Nile valley. In conclusion the book argues that Saudi Arabia’s regional policies aimed at enhancing internal and external security have proved destabilizing and in a way even adventurous. By fermenting Somali nationalism Saudi Arabia hoped to push the Soviets out of the Red Sea. In fact this policy reinforced the Soviet presence in the Horn of Africa. Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s regular interference in the domestic affairs of North Yemen may well prove extremely counter-productive. The book argues that the West’s preoccupation with the region would lessen considerably if Saudi Arabia and Egypt would promote policies of cooperation, rather than destabilization at both inter-Arab and Afro-Arab levels.

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Table of Contents

Foreword, Boutros Boutros-Ghali. 1. Introduction: the Red Sea Setting 2. Soviet Interests in the Red Sea 2.1. The Purposes of Soviet Power 2.2. Soviet Interests in Southwestern Asia 2.2.1. Oil 2.2.2. National Security: Southern Border, Communications in the Indian Ocean, Submarine Strategic Threat 2.3. International Projection 3. The USSR and the Red Sea Countries 3.1. Southern Arabia 3.1.1 The USSR and the Yemen Arab Republic 3.1.2. Saudi Arabia and the Yemen Arab Republic 3.1.3. The Question of Yemeni Reunification 3.1.4. The USSR and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen 3.2. The Horn of Africa 3.2.1. Nationalism and Socialism in Ethiopia 3.2.2. Containing the Soviets: the Moderate Arab Coalition 3.2.3. The War in Ogaden: Opportunities vs. Grand Design 4. The Red Sea and Western Interests 4.1. Redirecting Oil Shipments 4.2. Development and Integration: the Arab World and the Red Sea 4.3. South-east of NATO 5. Regional Stability in the Red Sea 5.1. Inter-Arab Relations 5.1.1. An ‘Egyptian Lake’ 5.2. Afro-Arab Relations in the Red Sea: Different Approaches 5.3. Micro-Afro-Arab Relations in the Red Sea 5.3.1. Arab-Israeli Conflict 5.3.2. Inter-Arab Rivalries and Pan-Arab Assertiveness 5.3.3. Pan-Arab Assertiveness and Containment of Communism 5.3.4. Nile Valley Security 6. Conclusions: The Regional Outlook and its Strategic Relevance

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