February 22, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Red Sea Crisis: The UN Security Council demands an immediate cessation of Houthi attacks Yemen

Red Sea Crisis: The UN Security Council demands an immediate cessation of Houthi attacks  Yemen

The UN Security Council called for an immediate halt to Houthi attacks in Yemen on ships in the Red Sea, and adopted a resolution despite Russia and China abstaining from voting.

The resolution also called on the Houthis to release the Galaxy Leader, a Japanese-operated vehicle carrier linked to an Israeli businessman that the group seized on November 19, along with its 25-member crew.

The Houthis have launched 26 attacks on ships since then, prompting shipping companies to bypass the route and divert around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, dramatically increasing journey times and costs, US Central Command said.

The attack and boarding of the St. Nicholas off the coast of Oman, which was reported hours after the UN Security Council resolution was passed, has not yet been determined and may have been the work of the Iranians, not the Houthis based in Yemen.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that further attacks could lead to a Western military response. He was speaking after US and British warships on Tuesday shot down 21 drones and missiles launched by the Houthis in what London described as the largest attack of its kind in the region.

British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said the UK, its Western allies and Saudi Arabia “all agree” that the series of attacks on warships and commercial vessels in the southern Red Sea “cannot continue.” He did not rule out striking Houthi military targets on the ground.

The Houthis, who are allied with Iran and have taken control of much of Yemen in a civil war, have vowed to attack ships linked to Israel or heading to Israeli ports to show support for Hamas in its war in Gaza. However, many of the ships targeted have no connection to Israel.

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On Thursday, Israel is scheduled to face the International Court of Justice to defend itself against accusations of genocide in Gaza. The initial hearings will focus on requests from South Africa – which brought the case – to take emergency measures ordering Israel to suspend its military operations in Gaza while the court hears the merits of the case, a process that could take years.

A key provision of Wednesday's Security Council resolution, sponsored by the United States and Japan, referred to the right of UN member states, in accordance with international law, to “defend their ships from attack, including those that undermine navigational rights and freedoms.”

Map of the Red Sea

The ruling constitutes a tacit endorsement of Operation Prosperity Sentinel, a US-led multinational maritime task force that defends commercial ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden from Houthi missile and drone attacks.

A spokesman for the Houthis in Yemen rejected the decision, describing it as a “political game” and saying that it was the United States that was violating international law.

The Council's adoption of the resolution came after it rejected amendments proposed by Russia, which would have stripped implicit support for the US-led task force and included the war in Gaza among the “root causes” of the Houthi strikes.

Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia questioned the legitimacy of the working group and said that the decision in its current form is “an open blessing for him.”

Despite having veto power in the Security Council, Russia and China chose to abstain from voting, along with Mozambique and Algeria.

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The resolution, which notes “widespread” violations of the arms embargo imposed on the Houthis, stresses the need for “all member states to adhere to their obligations” and “condemns the provision of weapons” to the Houthis.

Washington's ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said: “Iran has long encouraged the Houthis' destabilizing actions in the region through financial and material support.”

Anthony Blinken warns the Houthis of the “consequences” of attacks on Red Sea ships – video

The United Nations said earlier that it remains “deeply concerned about the situation in the Red Sea, not only because of the situation itself, and the risks it poses to global trade.”

A report this week from Windward, a maritime analysis firm, showed that since the Houthis began their attacks on the Red Sea, the number of lanes through the vital shipping lane has declined dramatically.

In the second week of December, there was a 70% decrease in the number of container ships passing through the southern entrance to the Red Sea, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, compared to the weekly average of 2023. At the same time, there was a 136% increase in Excursions via the Cape of Good Hope.

Analysts and government officials said continued disruption of maritime trade could lead to an increase in energy and food prices.

In the case of the attack on St Nicholas, the UK Maritime Trade Organization (UKMTO) said on its social media account that four to five masked men wearing military uniforms and balaclavas boarded a ship 50 nautical miles east of Sohar port. This is an area that has not been subjected to Houthi attacks before. The group had covered the surveillance cameras on board the plane.

Maritime security company Ambre said the ship had been prosecuted in the past for carrying sanctioned Iranian oil, adding that the tanker was headed to Bandar Jask, Iran.

Spokesmen for the Greek company Empire Management, which manages the ship, said they had lost contact with the ship and its crew of 19, most of them Filipinos. “The ship had been loaded the previous days in Basra [Iraq] A shipment of approximately 145,000 metric tons of crude oil is destined for Aliaga [Turkey], via the Suez Canal. They said that the ship's charterer was Tupras.

The UKMTO urged shipping to proceed with caution.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report