‘Real threat’ and ‘very complex area’… suspending vessel movement in the Red Sea

Danish shipping companies Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd of Germany announced on Friday they would suspend the passage of their ships in the Red Sea in view of attacks by Yemen’s Houthi armed forces in the context of the Gaza war. .

Maersk said in a statement, a copy of which was received by AFP: “Following the incident against the Maersk ship in Gibraltar and today’s new attack on a container ship, we have asked all Maersk ships in the region to take action. “Navigation across the Bab el-Mandab Strait is suspended. “Until further notice”.

Hapag-Lloyd announced it was suspending its ships’ transit of the Red Sea “until at least Monday.”

The group said in a statement that “transportation of container ships through the Red Sea will be suspended until Monday,” adding: “We will decide later on the next phase.”

The company explained that one of its ships was “targeted while sailing off the coast of Yemen” and stressed that this did not result in “any casualties.”

Maersk’s decision came after the Iran-backed Houthis warned they would target ships linked to Israel in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen in response to the war between Israel and Hamas.

The Houthis late on Friday threatened that “any hostilities against Yemen will have dire consequences and huge costs” after announcing they were “targeting” two container ships off the coast of Yemen bound for Israel, the MSC Alania. ” and “MSC Alania”. Palladium. “.”

Houthi spokesman Yahya al-Sarri said in a statement on Friday during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Sanaa that a “military operation” was carried out against two container ships, the MSC Alania and the MSC Alania. Palatium,” adding that they were heading to Israel.

“After their crews refused to respond to calls from the Yemeni Navy and intense warning messages, they were targeted by two appropriate naval missiles,” he announced.

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German private intelligence company “Ambry” has previously said that the two ships, one of which is sailing to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, are likely to be threatened because their owner, the Swiss MSC Group, “cooperates with Israel.”

Similarly, Ambrey reported that the Liberian-flagged container ship Al Jasra, owned by German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd, “suffered material damage from an airstrike” north of the Yemeni coastal city of Moka.

A US Department of Defense official explained to AFP: “We know that something was fired from an area controlled by the Houthis in Yemen and hit the ship, causing damage to the ship. Information received said that a fire broke out .”go out. “

The UK Maritime Safety Authority UKMTO also reported that a ship was hit by an “unidentified object”, causing a fire but causing no casualties.

Ambre noted that Hapag-Lloyd has offices in the Israeli ports of Haifa, Tel Aviv and Ashdod.

Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for an attack on a Maersk ship in Gibraltar on Thursday, but the missile missed its target, according to a U.S. official.

U.S. Central Command Centcom confirmed on the X platform that a “drone” targeted the Al Jasra ship, causing a fire on the ship, but it was successfully extinguished.

“The Alanya ship was threatened but not bombed, while the Palatim was hit by one of the two missiles fired,” Central Command added.

“Specific threat”

“Houthi attacks against civilian merchant ships in the Red Sea must stop immediately,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock said on Friday.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan believes that the Houthis “pose a real threat to freedom of navigation.”

“The United States is working with the international community and partners in the region and around the world to counter this threat,” he said in a statement during a visit to Israel on Friday, adding that “the Houthis are pulling the trigger (…) but Iran is moving towards They provide weapons.”

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Ali Khahoum, a member of the Houthi politburo, said in a statement to Al-Mayadeen TV on Friday night that “any hostilities against Yemen will bring dire consequences and huge costs.”

“The Palestinian issue is the compass and we will not abandon it regardless of threats and insinuations from the United States, the West and Israel,” he added, threatening that actions against Israel “will continue.”

“Yemen has made all defense preparations to face any hostile actions by the United States, Israel and the West,” he continued, according to Reuters.

On Wednesday, Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani warned against deploying multinational forces in the Red Sea, which he considered an area “under Iranian influence.” “If they make this level of irrational decisions, they will face major problems,” he told Iran’s ISNA agency.

In response to a question about the consequences of the attack in the Red Sea, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said he was “concerned about the risk of escalation in the region.”

He added at a news conference in Oslo: “Our region is very complex and we do not need more conflicts. We want to be able to avoid any new escalations in our region.”

About 20,000 ships pass through this maritime route connecting the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans every year.


In recent weeks, the Houthis have stepped up attacks near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which is considered a strategic location for maritime transport as it separates the Arabian Peninsula from Africa and through which 40% of international trade passes.

U.S. and French warships patrolling the area shot down multiple missiles and drones.

The Bab el Mandeb Strait is one of the most important water straits in the world.file

On Friday, the Houthis said that “ships near Yemen will not be targeted if they follow their instructions,” but that ships heading to Israeli ports “will be banned from sailing in the Arabian and Red Seas until we deliver food and medicine.” until”. Our brothers in Gaza need access. “

Mohammed Basha, a Middle East expert at the Navant Group at the U.S. analytical center, said recent events showed that “the Houthis are ready to target anything related to Israel,” regardless of its connection.

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