21st February 2024 admin Category :
JEDDAH: Iran-backed Houthi terrorists in Yemen are posing a threat to shipping in the strategic Bab Al-Mandab strait, the Saudi-led coalition supporting the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said after an attack on a UAE vessel.
The coalition rescued the vessel’s civilian passengers. No crew were hurt.
“This incident demonstrates Houthi tactics of terrorist attacks against civilian international navigation in the Bab Al-Mandab,” the coalition said in a statement.
“This operation is a terrorist and cowardly act which is aimed at negatively affecting navigation in Bab Al-Mandab and the Arabian Sea but they will fail,” commented Rear Admiral (retd) and military analyst Shami Al-Zawahiri.
He told Arab News that the attack proves that the Houthis and the supporters of Ali Abdullah Saleh never respect international charters nor humanitarian principles or ethics.
President Hadi’s government said the criminal act threatens international security.
The coalition added that Houthi militiamen had attacked the vessel “on its usual route to and from Aden to transfer relief and medical aid and evacuate wounded civilians.”
Coalition air and naval forces targeted Houthi boats involved in the attack near the Bab Al-Mandab.
The strait is a major shipping lane between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden leading into the Indian Ocean.
The vessel was an Australian-built high speed logistics catamaran under lease to the UAE military. It belonged to the UAE Marine Dredging Company.
Houthis claimed the cruel attack targeted and destroyed a UAE ship with rockets as it neared Mokha on the Red Sea coast.
The UAE military acknowledged an incident involving a chartered vessel under its command in the Bab Al-Mandab as it was returning from a routine journey to Aden, further south.
On Sunday, the Houthis reported that five people were killed and six wounded in a coalition air strike targeting fishing boats off Wahjah, south of Mokha.
The UAE is a key member of the coalition that has been battling the Iran-backed Houthis and their allies since March last year in support of President Hadi’s government.
Maj. Gen Ahmed Al-Assiri, spokesman of the Arab coalition and military adviser to the Saudi defense minister, said that the attack on the civilian ship proves that the killing of Yemeni citizens is the aim of Houthis.
It also indicated that desperate Houthis were shifting their activities to attacking relief and medical ships in the wake of their failure within Yemen.
Speaking to the Saudi Al-Ekhbariya TV channel, Al-Assiri said that safety and security of relief ships is a top priority for coalition forces.
The spokesman said Houthis were also attacking relief convoys while seeking a cease-fire.
He said Mokha Port, which is under the control of the Houthi militia and the nearest point to Bab Al-Mandab, will be dealt with firmly.
However, citizens in the region engaged in fishing activities will not be disturbed, he said.
Since March 2015, the coalition has pushed the Houthis out of much of Yemen’s south.
Hundreds of UAE soldiers in an Arab alliance have been fighting Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthis.
In 2013, more than 3.4 million barrels of oil per day passed through the 20-km wide Bab Al-Mandab strait, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
A senior UAE commander was among dozens killed in a Tochka rocket strike in 2015 on an army camp near Bab Al-Mandab.