Saelleh: Saudi help in Yemen ensured safety of vital east-west shipping link


Saudi Gazette

— The timely Saudi campaign to restore legitimacy in Yemen has ensured smooth navigation between West and East, an International maritime security expert said here on Tuesday.

Norhasliza Binti Mat Saelleh, who is also a member of Malaysian Prime Minister’s National Security Council, told Saudi Gazette that “the Bab Al-Mandab channel in Yemen which is narrow and crucial and is a critical link between Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Here ships become slow. Security and safety in this area is vital to maintain maritime traffic especially exports from Asia to European countries."

Saelleh, deputy director in National Security Council of her country, is in the Kingdom to participate in the border and maritime security symposium organized by Ministry of Interior through Saudi Border Guards. "Due to Saudi Arabia’s active role safer passage prevails in the busy Red Sea shipping lanes in the volatile region," she said.

In volatile seas it is difficult to navigate commercial shipping and peace is an important factor. As such, Saudi Arabia's presence has been helpful for the safer passage of maritime traffic, she said.

The Silk Road, she said, is an alternative developing route from Asia to Europe but there are difficulties in the route as some stretches of sea parts are frozen and it is not possible for normal and regular ships to navigate through. Special ships are required for passing through frozen parts, she added.

The Malaysian security expert opined that piracy can’t be eliminated fully. "It can be minimized as much as possible with greater efforts involving all nations."

“Deploying security patrols in seas is one of the many measures to combat piracy. However, no country is able to deploy such patrols as pirates move from one country to other,” she said.

Countries across the globe require working with each other in capacity-building and sharing information on pirates, she said.

Saelleh that there are no accurate figures available for losses caused by piracy. But, she said, it is believed that annually an estimated $20 billion is lost in the overall disruption in the supply system.

“The situation has improved to a greater extent in Indian Ocean which is vulnerable to piracy as there is almost zero incidece of piracy as result of effective role being played by countries in the region,” she said.

On the South China Sea dispute, she said it must be settled by all the stake-holders amicably.

Hailing the Kingdom's efforts to maintain peace in maritime lines and improve security situation, she said exchanging ideas and presenting study papers upon vital security issues are helpful.