Houthis Threaten to Block Red Sea Shipping Lane?

Yemen’s Houthi movement has threatened to block the Red Sea shipping lane if the Saudi Arabia-led coalition continues moving toward the port of Hodeidah, Reuters reported citing SABA news agency.

Although the details related to the announced blockade were not unveiled, the Bab al-Mandab strait, where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea, is only 20 km wide, making hundreds of ships potentially an easy target.

Houthis’ Ansarullah political council chief, Saleh al-Samad, told SABA that the blockade would be among the strategic choices that will be taken “as a no return point,” if the political solution hits a wall.

Following the closure of Yemeni ports of Hodeidah and Saleef by the Saudi-led coalition in November 2017, Houthis threatened to target commercial ships in the region, the Houthis’ official media outlet Al Masirah reported.

The ports were closed at the beginning of November after a rebel-fired ballistic missile, which targeted Riyadh, was intercepted by Saudi Arabian military forces on November 4.

At the time, Mohammed Alli Al-Houthi, the head of Yemen’s Revolutionary Committee and leading member of the Houthis movement, said that international navigation would be safe if the ports are reopened.

On November 22, the Port of Hodeidah received its first aid ship as the Saudi Arabia-led coalition allowed for the Red Sea port to reopen for delivery of urgent humanitarian relief.

The war between the Houthi armed movement, allied with Iran, and a US-backed military coalition headed by Saudi Arabia has caused great damage in Yemen, as some 8 million people are on the brink of famine, more than 10,000 have been killed and tens of thousands of others are struggling with cholera, diphtheria and other diseases, Reuters said.

World Maritime News Staff