U.S. Navy Seizes Weapons in Gulf of Aden. Photo: U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) Public Affairs | Public Domain (The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement).

Arms Transfers in the Gulf of Aden. Shining the Spotlight on Regional Dynamics

Since the outbreak of the war in Yemen in 2015, the state has seen a growing influx in the supply of weapons. These weapons are both legally and illegally provided by regional and international powers to all major factions of the conflict. While arms transfers and their effects on the conflict in Yemen have received considerable attention, a lesser known fact is that weapons are increasingly circulating between Yemen, Somalia and Djibouti – the three states adjoining the Gulf of Aden. Against this background, this text shines the spotlight on weapons flows dynamics in a highly militarized region.

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Near an occupied military post at rebel-held Ras Lanuf, Libya's largest oil refinery, fighters have left large stockpiles of weaponry such as tank shells and assault rifle and anti-aircraft ammunition. | Photo: flickr, Al Jazeera English | CC BY-SA 2.0

From Legal to Illegal Transfers: Regional Implications of Weapon Flows to Libya

The recent denial of access to a Turkish freighter for German soldiers of the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean Operation IRINI is the latest example of the difficulties arising from the UN-imposed arms embargo in Libya. Since 2011, countries such as Turkey, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Russia and France have continued to transfer large quantities of heavy military equipment to the North African State. In particular, Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) remain a major problem. Changes in the intensity of the Libyan conflict could lead to a growing spread of arms in the whole region and further complicate the overall security situation at the expense of domestic populations.

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