Middle East Studies

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The Red Sea Region between War and Reconciliation


Dr Shaul Shay is a senior research fellow of the International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT) and former Director of Research at the Institute for Strategy and Policy (IPS) at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, and served as the Deputy Head of the Israeli National Security Council. His publications include: Global Jihad and the Tactic of Terror Abduction. His 2005 book The Red Sea Terror Triangle: Sudan, Somalia and Yemen and Islamic Terror analyzed events that led these countries to become hubs of radical Islam and terrorism. The current book moves events forward a decade to the geostrategic shifts in the region.


Reviews of the author’s Israel and Islamic Terror Abductions, 1986–2016:

“Political terror abductions keeps growing, and this book is an excellent introduction. Highly recommended.” Choice
“Abduction is a grievous weapon in the terrorist arsenal, and this book shows why.” Joshua Sinai, Washington Post

The Red Sea is one of the world’s most important trade routes, a theater of power struggle among local, regional and global powers. Military and political developments continue to impact on the geostrategic landscape of the region in the context of its trade thoroughfare for Europe, China, Japan and India; freedom of navigation is a strategic interest for Egypt, and essential for Israel’s economic ties with Asia.

Superpower confrontation is inevitable. China, the US, France, Japan and Saudi Arabia have military bases in Djibouti. US strategy seeks to curb Chinese economic influence and Russian political interference in the region through diplomacy and investment. And at the centre of US alliances is the “war on terror” still prevalent in the Middle East and East Africa: Islamic terror groups Al Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya; Al Qaeda of the Arab Peninsula in Yemen; and the Islamic State in Egypt. The civil war in Yemen has become the arena for Iran and Saudi Arabia’s struggle for regional hegemony. Saudi Arabia’s Sunni Arab coalition have been fighting Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels to a stalemate.

The last year (2018) introduced some positive new geostrategic developments to the war-torn region of the Red Sea. The peaceful resolution of the long conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, followed by reconciliation between Eritrea and Djibouti, and Eritrea and Somalia, will have a stabilizing impact across the region. These, and other perceived positive geostrategic developments have to be offset by the dangers of multiple country military deployments in the region, the “nuclearization” of the Red Sea basin (directed in part by Russian foreign policy), and hubs of radical Islam and terrorism. A stable future for the region cannot be taken for granted. And as alliances shift and change, so will Israel’s foreign policy and strategic partnerships have to adjust.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-996-8
Hardback Price: £65.00 / $79.95
Release Date: August 2019
Page Extent / Format: 240 pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: Yes


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