Houthi militia attacks container ship again

01/24/2024 9:30 pm (current 01/24/2024 9:30 pm)

US military action against Houthi attacks in full swing ©APA/US Central Command (CENTCOM)

The Yemeni Houthi militia has again attacked a container ship in the Middle East, according to the US military. The militia fired three rockets from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen on Wednesday at a US-flagged cargo ship transiting the Gulf of Aden, the US military's regional command said.

One of the missiles hit the sea, the other two were shot down by a US Navy destroyer, the US Army said. No injuries or damage to the ship were reported. The US had previously said it had destroyed two anti-ship missiles aimed at the Red Sea.

Shipping company Maersk said Wednesday that two of its ships turned back at the southern entrance to the Red Sea after noticing nearby explosions. The US-flagged ships were in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait between Yemen and Djibouti and were escorted back to the Gulf of Aden by the US Navy. There was no damage and the crew emerged unharmed.

The US has asked China for help in countering attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels on merchant ships in the Red Sea, according to a media report. China should influence Iran to persuade its allies in Yemen to comply, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing US government circles. However, there are almost no signs of corresponding support from the Chinese government.

The US has repeatedly raised its concerns about China over the past three months. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also raised the issue with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi. Houthi rebels in Yemen have repeatedly attacked merchant ships in the Red Sea in an attempt to express their solidarity with the radical Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Both groups are supported by Iran.

The attacks disrupted international shipping. Many shipping companies are avoiding the important Suez Canal and redirecting their cargo ships to safer routes. To protect merchant shipping in the Red Sea, the US and Britain attacked Houthi military positions.

The Houthis, meanwhile, have asked British and American personnel from the United Nations and other humanitarian aid organizations to leave areas under their control in Yemen. The German Press Agency learned on Wednesday from pro-Iran militia circles that the request was made in response to repeated attacks by the US, Britain and other allies against Houthi targets in the country. Those affected must leave Sanaa, the Houthi-controlled capital, within a month. “The British and Americans will leave safely,” he said. Citizens whose countries were not involved in the attacks were allowed to remain in the country.

Meanwhile, 24 states have called on the Houthis to immediately stop their attacks. At the same time, American and British attacks on Houthi positions in Yemen were defended in a statement released on Wednesday, stating that they were carried out “in the exercise of their inherent right to individual and collective self-defense in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations .” The declaration was signed, among others, by twelve EU states, Kenya, the USA and Great Britain. “These attacks were intended to weaken or disrupt the Houthi’s ability to continue their attacks on global commerce and innocent seafarers around the world, while preventing escalation,” he said.

Governments also noted that those who supported Houthi rebels with weapons for these attacks violated UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and international law. “The more than thirty attacks that the Houthis have carried out against commercial and war ships since mid-November represent a threat to all countries that depend on international maritime transport”, highlighted the statement. Austria did not join the declaration, which was supported by neighboring countries Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Italy, among others.

The ambassadors of five countries to Yemen plan to discuss the situation on Wednesday, Russian state news agency TASS reported. These are the representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, in addition to Russia, France, Great Britain, the USA and China.