Yemen's Presidential Leadership Council Warns Against Escalating Tensions in Red Sea

News Agencies | 2024-01-06 08:17 PM UTC


The Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) on Thursday warned the Houthi rebel group against continuing its attacks on ships in the Red Sea. In a brief press statement, the PLC, chaired by Rashad Al-Alimi, held the Houthis responsible for any potential consequences stemming from their military operations against commercial ships. In a PLC meeting held in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, the Yemeni leaders cautioned that such Houthi attacks could draw Yemen into an "international war" and exacerbate humanitarian suffering. The PLC called on the international community to strengthen Yemen's government defenses and deter further Houthi violence.


A Houthi drone boat packed with explosives detonated in the Red Sea on Thursday but failed to cause any damage or casualties, the U.S. Navy said, as the Yemen-based group continued its attacks in defiance of international calls to stop. The latest attack came one day after 12 countries, including the U.S., Britain and Japan issued a joint statement cautioning the Houthis of unspecified "consequences" unless it halts its attacks, in what one U.S. official on Wednesday suggested was a final warning. Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, who leads U.S. Naval forces in the Middle East, said on Thursday that the Houthi exploding boat drove out about 50 miles (80 km) into the Red Sea and then detonated in dense shipping lanes. The Houthi attacks have disrupted international shipping, causing some companies to suspend transits through the Red Sea and instead take the much longer, costlier journey around Africa.


 On Friday, Maersk joined other major ocean carriers in rerouting ships away from the Red Sea to avoid missile and drone attacks in an area that leads to the vital Asia-Europe Suez Canal shortcut. That route handles more than 10% of ocean shipments and nearly one-third of the world's container trade. Ship owners' fuel costs are up as much as $2 million per round trip for Suez Canal diversions and the Asia-Europe spot rate has more than doubled from 2023's average to $3,500 per 40-foot container. The increased costs could translate into higher prices for consumers, though Goldman Sachs said on Friday that the inflation shock should not be as bad as the 2020-22 pandemic chaos.


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Turkye's leaders Saturday during the first stop of his latest Mideast diplomatic mission as fears grow that Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza may expand into a broader conflict. Blinken's fourth visit in three months comes as developments in Lebanon, northern Israel, the Red Sea and Iraq have put intense strains on what had been a modestly successful U.S. push to prevent a regional conflagration since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, and as international criticism of Israel's military operation mounts.Blinken "emphasized the need to prevent the conflict from spreading ... and work toward broader, lasting peace that ensures Israel's security and advances the establishment of a Palestinian state," the U.S. State Department said in a statement summarizing Blinken's meeting with Erdogan.