Assessment of the Response to Illicit Weapons Trafficking in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea

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The Republic of Yemen has been embroiled in a violent conflict since September 2014 when Houthi forces took military control of the capital city Sana’a and displaced the government of interim President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Yemen’s protracted conflict has claimed at least 377.000 lives, most of them civilians, and plunged Yemen, already the poorest country of the Arabian Peninsula, into a complex humanitarian catastrophe. The Houthis appear to have used a lull in the fighting to increase their military arsenals, displaying large numbers of sophisticated weapon systems in a series of military parades in Sana’a and Hodeida on the anniversaries of their “revolution” and amongst other holidays in September 2022 and 2023. Following the outbreak of the Gaza conflict in October 2023, these weapons were used to launch attacks on Israeli territory and on commercial ships, posing a threat to the vital shipping lines between Suez and the Bab al-Mandab. The continued threats and targeting of civilian vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and the subsequent decision by the United States of America and allied Member States to deploy a naval mission in the Red Sea to protect international shipping ended the period of relative calm and brought the conflict in Yemen back into the international spotlight. The subsequent launch of strikes onto targets inside Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen by the United States and United Kingdom as part of a campaign to counter the attacks on civilian shipping has added further complexity to the situation.

Sustainable Development Goals:


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