By Mohammed al-Rayes
Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced the creation of a grouping for Red Sea and Horn of Africa countries.
“Through this grouping, we will be able to cooperate on all economic, environmental and security issues,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told the opening session of a ministerial meeting of Arab and African countries bordering the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
"This grouping will enhance stability, security and trade in the region, contribute to creating harmony in this sensitive region and prevent any external force from playing a negative role," he said, without naming these forces.
Egypt, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Jordan attended Wednesday’s meeting.
"The ministerial meeting of Arab and African countries bordering the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden agreed to form a grouping including the seven participant countries," the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement at the end of the meeting.
Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies accuse Iran of posing a threat to navigation in the Red Sea, an accusation vehemently denied by Tehran.
The Saudi-led coalition, which has been launching a massive air campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, also accuses the Iran-backed rebels of threatening the movement of oil tankers in the Red Sea.
Last year, Egypt hosted a similar meeting for countries overlooking the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, attended by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Djibouti, Yemen, Sudan and Eritrea.