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Navigating Naval Chokepoints in the Age of COVID: The Bab-Al-Mandab and Other Dangerous Straits?

Many of the great navies, maritime fleets, and governments navigate the littorals’ fraught waters along the Bab-al-Mandab strait (often known as the “BAM”), separating Africa from the Arabian peninsula via an18-mile-wide chokepoint. Tankers transport nearly five million barrels of oil a day transit to and from the Red Sea via two-mile-wide channels in the strait. Up to 20 percent of global trade annually transits the BAM. The Saudi-led war in Yemen continues, with Iran supporting the Houthi rebels, and South Yemen seeking independence. China sits along the strait in its first overseas military base in Djibouti. Somali pirates; and terror groups, including al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Islamic State, and al-Shabaab, have suffered attrition, and yet continue to threaten the region. It is likely that COVID-19 and the global economic downturn will further erode the fragile governance of Yemen and Somalia, and reduce Western defense spending in the area.

Read full article on Real Clear Defense

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