Saudi Arabia hosted the inaugural meeting of the Arab and African Coastal States of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (AARSGA) in Riyadh on 12 December. The foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen represented their states. While the organization may prove to be nothing more than a short-lived talking shop, it is indicative of the growing interest that Saudi Arabia – and other Gulf States – have in the Horn of Africa.

The absence of Eritrea from the mix is intriguing given that ties with Saudi Arabia have been strengthening and the kingdom brokered the Eritrea-Ethiopia peace deal in September. Eritrea, and Djibouti, hold strategic locations on the African side of the Bab al-Mandeb maritime chokepoint (MEES, 27 July). (CONTINUED - 121 WORDS)