NewsHouthi attack on British tanker carrying Russian oil shakes Red Sea route, raises oil prices

Houthi attack on British tanker carrying Russian oil shakes Red Sea route, raises oil prices

President of Russia Vladimir Putin
President of Russia Vladimir Putin
Images source: © PAP | PAP/EPA/PAVEL BEDNYAKOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

10:33 AM EST, January 27, 2024

A successful missile assault on the Marlin Luanda tanker occurred on Friday evening, January 26, as it was departing the Red Sea. A spokesperson for Trafigura confirmed that the explosion triggered a fire in a tank on the vessel's right side. This attack was not the only assault on Friday.

Bloomberg has reported that the British ship was transporting Russian oil. Nevertheless, this doesn't imply a violation of sanctions placed on trade with Russia due to its assault on Ukraine. Trafigura maintains that the goods were procured in line with restrictions established by the G7 countries.

"The fact that the targeted ship was carrying Russian crude oil is likely to raise concerns in Moscow", writes Bloomberg. The agency indicates that following Europe's decision to stop importing Russian oil in response to the Kremlin's aggression toward Ukraine, "vast quantities of Russian crude oil currently move through the Red Sea to reach Asian recipients."

Furthermore, the news agency notes that these attacks are pushing up oil prices on Western exchanges. This week they climbed by 6 percent, representing the most significant increase since October 2023. "The price of West Texas Intermediate crude rose to 78 dollars a barrel, marking the highest price since November", reports Bloomberg.

Rising tensions on a crucial trading route

The development is likely to be concerning for Moscow, particularly because the Houthis have previously reassured Russia and China that their ships are safe. It is important to note that the rebels purport to target only ships associated with Israel, and more recently, with the US and UK.

The Ansar Allah movement activists are striving to compel Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to instigate a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip to allow for humanitarian aid delivery to the Palestinians. They aim to achieve this by disrupting the vital trade route through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.

Various parties, including the USA and the UK, countered the attacks by targeting Houthi positions in Yemen. Yet, these actions haven't impeded the operational abilities of the Shiite rebels, who have spent almost a decade enduring civil war, with tacit support from Iran.

Houthi attacks in the Red Sea: Europe starts feeling the impact

Disruptions along the route, which until recently was responsible for 12 percent of global trade, are significantly affecting European businesses. For instance, due to the extension of supply chains, operations were halted at a Tesla factory near Berlin. Ships are now choosing the lengthier and costlier route around Africa, avoiding the Red Sea.

Major shipowners have suspended travel through that waterway. Similarly, oil corporations including BP and Shell have followed suit. Nevertheless, tankers from countries like Saudi Arabia continue to utilize the Suez Canal. The situation is so severe that China is urging Iran to put a stop to Houthi attacks.

As previously noted, the rebels persistently attack as long as Israel continues its war in the Gaza Strip. The conflict has resulted in over 25,000 casualties according to Palestinian sources, primarily women and children. The war is a reprisal for a Hamas ambush in October, in which 827 civilians, 401 soldiers, and 72 police officers were killed, with approximately 240 individuals taken hostage.

Israel faces allegations of genocide in Gaza

At the request of the SA, the UN International Court of Justice is probing whether Israel has committed genocide in Gaza. The verdict is still undecided, but the ICJ made a declaration on Friday, asserting that the country must employ all necessary measures to deter its military from committing acts of genocide in the Gaza Strip.

The ICJ also scrutinized statements by members of Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right government. The court decreed that Israel must discourage any public remarks that could be interpreted as instigation of genocide in Gaza, and penalize such expressions.

In addition to this, the ICJ directed Israel to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. Impressively, Israel must also prevent the destruction of evidence that could be employed in a case related to genocide.

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