Suez Canal attacks – All maritime navigation in danger on Suez Canal for Houthi attacks 15-01-2024

Suez Canal attacks

All maritime navigation in danger on Suez Canal for Houthi attacks

The Suez Canal, one of the world’s most important waterways for global trade, is facing a serious threat from the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have launched a series of attacks on shipping vessels in the Red Sea. The attacks have caused major disruptions and delays for cargo and oil shipments, as well as increased security risks and costs for the maritime industry.

What are the Houthi attacks?

The Houthi rebels are an Iran-aligned group that have been fighting a civil war against the internationally recognized government of Yemen since 2014. They control most of the western coast of Yemen, including the port of Hodeidah, which gives them access to the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a narrow chokepoint that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.  Suez Canal attacks

The Houthis have claimed responsibility for several attacks on ships in the Red Sea, using drones, missiles, and mines. They have said they are targeting ships linked to Israel or bound for Israeli ports, in solidarity with Hamas in its conflict with Israel in Gaza. However, many of the attacked ships have had no connection to Israel, and some have been carrying humanitarian aid or civilian passengers.

The Houthis have also seized a Japanese-operated vehicle carrier, the Galaxy Leader, on 19 November 2023, along with its 25 crew members. Suez Canal attacks

The ship is reportedly linked to an Israeli businessman, and the Houthis have demanded a ransom for its release.

How have the attacks affected the Suez Canal?

The Suez Canal is a vital artery for East-West trade, especially for oil and gas, as it allows ships to avoid the long and costly detour around Africa. About 19,000 ships pass through the canal every year, carrying about 12% of global trade by volume and 10% of global oil supply.

The Houthi attacks have created a security dilemma for the shipping companies and their customers, who have to weigh the risks and benefits of using the canal. Some have decided to divert their ships around the Cape of Good Hope, adding about 6,000 nautical miles and three or four weeks to their journey times.  Suez Canal attacks

Others have continued to use the canal, but with increased insurance premiums, security measures, and vigilance.

According to the shipping company Kuehne and Nagel, more than 100 container ships have already changed course to avoid the canal, with more expected to follow. The company said the diversion could reduce the global fleet capacity by 20%, leading to potential delays and shortages of goods and equipment. The disruption has also contributed to higher oil prices, which could affect consumer energy bills and inflation.

What is being done to stop the attacks?

The international community has condemned the Houthi attacks and called for an immediate end to the violence. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on 10 January 2024, demanding the Houthis to release the Galaxy Leader and its crew, and to stop attacking ships in the Red Sea.  Suez Canal attacks

The resolution also noted the right of UN member states to defend their vessels from attack, in accordance with international law.

The US has taken the lead in forming a naval coalition, called Operation Prosperity Guardian, to protect the shipping in the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aden from the Houthi attacks. The coalition includes the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. The coalition’s warships have intercepted and destroyed several Houthi drones and missiles, and have provided escort and surveillance for the commercial ships.

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said the coalition was ready to take further action if the attacks continued, and warned the Houthis that they were “playing with fire”. He also urged them to return to the peace talks with the Yemeni government, which have been stalled since 2019.  Suez Canal attacks

The Houthi rebels, however, have shown no sign of backing down, and have vowed to continue their attacks until Israel stops its aggression in Gaza. They have also accused the coalition of supporting the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, which has caused a humanitarian crisis and killed tens of thousands of civilians.

The situation in the Red Sea remains tense and volatile, as the Houthi attacks pose a serious challenge to the stability and security of the region and the world. The Suez Canal, which has been a symbol of global connectivity and cooperation for over a century, is now at the center of a complex and dangerous conflict.

Suez Canal attacks

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Suez Canal attacks