Houthis ‘ban’ vessels linked to Israel, US from Red Sea

Houthi threatens attack on Saudi tankers


Yemen’s Houthis on Thursday sent shippers and insurers formal notice of what they termed a ban on vessels linked to Israel, the U.S. and Britain from sailing in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian sea.

The ‘ban’ is seen as part of the militant group’s plan to reinforce its military campaign in support of Palestinians.

The move came as British maritime agencies reported a missile attack set ablaze a cargo vessel off the southern coast of Yemen.

The Houthis’ communication, the first to the shipping industry outlining a formalised ban, came in the form of two notices from the Houthis’ newly-dubbed Humanitarian Operations Coordination Center sent to shipping insurers and firms.

Meanwhile, the United States has condemned what it termed “the reckless and indiscriminate attacks on civilian cargo ships by the Houthis”.

The U.S. Department of State, in a statement on Thursday, said the Houthis are behaving like a terrorist organization – attacking civilians, civilian shipping, and innocent mariners, and they continue to detain the crew of the Galaxy Leader, consisting of 25 people from five different countries.

“This is piracy,” the U.S. Department of State said.

“The Houthis’ attacks are driving up prices and causing delivery delays in critical humanitarian items, such as food and medicine in places where it’s needed most. This is adversely affecting those in need of assistance around the world, including in Sudan, Ethiopia, and in Yemen itself.

“Many of the ships that the Houthis have attacked contained food, such as grain and corn, headed for those countries. And contrary to what the Houthis may attempt to claim, their attacks do nothing to help the Palestinians. Their actions are not bringing a single morsel of assistance or food to the Palestinian people.

Time and time again, the Houthis continue to demonstrate disregard to the Yemeni people.

“On February 16, they attacked a civilian ship and disabled it, risking spillage of fertilizer and fuel into the sea and threatening Yemen’s fishing industry. On February 18 and 19, the Houthis attacked other civilian ships, including the Sea Champion, which was bringing corn and other food supplies to the Yemeni people in Aden and to Hudaydah.

“The United States has taken pains to ensure that our sanctions and other actions to impose costs on the Houthis do not restrict commercial shipments or humanitarian assistance to the people of Yemen. The Houthis actions, in contrast, are preventing the delivery of food and essential items on which the Yemeni people rely and making it difficult for humanitarians to do their essential work, endangering an already fragile humanitarian situation.

“The Houthis are alienating the world community and putting the peace process in Yemen – which parties, including the Houthis, have painstakingly negotiated over the last two years – in jeopardy.

“The United States has been very clear that we do not want conflict in the Red Sea. We and our partners will continue to take appropriate action, as needed, to protect freedom of navigation and commercial shipping from Houthi attacks in this critical international waterway and to safeguard vital economic and humanitarian assistance to countries in the region,” it added.

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