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21 Mar, 2024 16:31

Russia and China reach shipping deal with Houthis – Bloomberg

Vessels from the two countries will not be targeted in the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden, the Yemen-based militant group has reportedly assured
Russia and China reach shipping deal with Houthis – Bloomberg

The Yemen-based Houthi militants have told Russia and China that their ships can sail freely through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden without fear of being attacked, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing sources.

People with knowledge of the matter told the outlet that the understanding was reached during talks in Oman involving Russian and Chinese diplomats and a top Houthi political figure.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, in exchange for promising safe passage for ships the Houthis want the two countries to provide political support for the rebel group in international bodies such as the UN Security Council.

The Houthi rebels have carried out dozens of drone and missile attacks on commercial vessels traversing the Red Sea, disrupting shipping traffic through one of the world’s most important maritime corridors. As a result, many major shipping companies have stopped using the Suez Canal and are instead redirecting ships around the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa.

The Houthis have been attacking ships they believe to be linked to Israel in what they claim is a show of “solidarity” with the Palestinian people in light of the war in Gaza. After the US and the UK conducted a number of strikes on Houthi facilities in Yemen, the group said it would now also attack ships affiliated with both nations.

In a recent such incident, Yemeni missiles struck the merchant vessel True Confidence in the Gulf of Aden earlier this month, causing the first deaths since the militant group started its attacks. The Houthis claimed the vessel was American. However, according to a Bloomberg source, the ship used to be owned by Los Angeles-based Oaktree Capital, but a new non-US company had taken it over.

A senior Houthi political leader, Ali Alqhoom, declared recently on X (formerly Twitter) that the group’s goal is “sinking America, Britain and the West in the swamp of the Red Sea.” 

Last week, the Houthis’ leader, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, vowed to expand the campaign to the Indian Ocean and hit vessels traveling around South Africa.

Attacks on vessels in the Red Sea region decreased traffic via the Suez Canal, a vital route between Asia and Europe that ordinarily handles about 15% of global maritime trade.

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