Parting the Red Sea: Boundaries, Offshore Resources and Transit
Author: Daniel J. Dzurek
The Red Sea has been a pivot of international relations since the dawn of recorded history. It divides Africa from the Middle East and exhibits many of the salient issues of marine policy. Linking the resources of the Persian Gulf with Western Europe and North America, the Red Sea is also a vital component of the world's energy and transport system, in addition to having un-explored resources of its own.
In spite of its global importance, there are only three settled maritime boundaries in the Red Sea. Boundary by boundary the author examines the island and territorial disputes which have complicated efforts towards delimitation, particularly in light of the 1998 and 1999 Eritrea-Yemen arbitral decisions. Excessive or ambiguous straight baseline claims also persist in clouding boundary analysis. Tensions continue over offshore resources, such as hydrocarbons and fisheries. Marine environmental degradation endangers fragile coral reefs and tourist attractions. Transit disputes dating to the Arab-Israeli conflict raise the questions of innocent and straits passage. Overarching all these issues are the larger regional tensions that inhibit cooperation in this crucial semi-enclosed sea.
Maritime Briefings (Vol. 3 no. 2)