Attacks on Israel-Linked Ships in Red Sea Disrupt Global Shipping Routes
Attacks on Israel-Linked Ships in Red Sea Disrupt Global Shipping Routes

Attacks on Israel-Linked Ships in Red Sea Disrupt Global Shipping Routes

  • 18-Dec-2023 11:53 AM
  • Journalist: Xiang Hong

In a significant development affecting the global maritime industry, several major shipping companies have temporarily suspended operations in the Red Sea due to escalating attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebel group. This decision comes in response to repeated attacks that have raised concerns about the safety of the critical shipping lane.

On Friday, industry giant Maersk took the lead by advising its fleet to halt all voyages through the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a narrow sea passage near Yemen with strategic importance for global oil shipments and access to the Suez Canal. Maersk cited a "deteriorating situation" and "serious risks" to the safety of ships and crew.

The impact of Maersk's decision is significant given that the company owns one of the world's largest container vessel fleets. Other major shipping companies, including MSC, CMA CGM, and Hapag-Lloyd, quickly followed suit, expressing similar concerns about maritime security in the region.

CMA CGM specifically emphasized its worry about the safety of its seafarers in its statement, announcing the suspension of Red Sea operations until further notice. The industry's collective response underscores growing anxiety over Houthi attacks, which have targeted oil tankers near Yemen's port city of Hodeidah.

The Houthis have openly declared their intention to target all ships heading to Israel, regardless of their national origin, as a show of solidarity with Hamas. Additionally, they have issued explicit warnings to international shipping companies, advising against engagement with Israeli ports.

Experts in maritime security from Yemen have warned that the escalating Houthi attacks pose a serious threat to international shipping traffic in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait, potentially triggering a broader regional conflict. Retired General Mohammed Salam Al-Asbahi highlighted the "very dangerous" situation in the strategic maritime region due to intensified Houthi military operations.

In response to the escalating situation, the Yemeni government denied joining a proposed international maritime coalition led by the United States to protect shipping lines from Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait. An unidentified government official clarified that decisions about joining such coalitions would be made by the highest authorities in the country.

Despite international and local media reports suggesting Yemen's potential participation in a U.S.-led naval coalition, the official stressed the importance of supporting the Yemeni government's capabilities to protect its territorial waters and mitigate threats from Houthi rebels.

The Houthis, in control of northern Yemen and its western coastline along the Red Sea for over nine years, have declared any vessels aiding Israel as legitimate targets. The situation remains complex and fluid, with concerns about its broader implications for global maritime trade and regional stability.

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