NewsHouthi rebels negotiate safe Red Sea passage with Russia and China

Houthi rebels negotiate safe Red Sea passage with Russia and China

Yemeni Houthi rebels have been attacking commercial ships in the Red Sea since mid-November 2023.
Yemeni Houthi rebels have been attacking commercial ships in the Red Sea since mid-November 2023.
Images source: © East News | MOHAMMED HUWAIS

3:11 PM EDT, March 21, 2024

Representatives of the Yemeni Houthi movement have engaged in discussions with Russian and Chinese diplomats to secure safe passage for their fleets through the Red Sea. The agreement entails that the Houthis ensure their ships will not be targeted for attacks.

In Oman, a significant meeting took place between Mohammed Abdel Salam, a leading political figure of the Houthi fighters, and diplomats from Russia and China, as reported by Bloomberg. This information was gathered from sources who witnessed the discussions.
The arrangement stipulates that Houthi forces will abstain from attacking Russian and Chinese vessels, thereby allowing them safe transit through the Red Sea. In exchange, the Houthis anticipate political backing, such as opposition to further UN resolutions against their movement.
Since mid-November 2023, Houthi rebels have escalated their assaults on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, specifically targeting ships associated with Israel and, more recently, with the United States and the United Kingdom. Their strategy aims to apply pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right government.
Bloomberg notes that some ships navigating the Red Sea now openly affiliate themselves with China to dodge Houthi assaults. They accomplish this by indicating that all crew members are Chinese, rather than listing their destination port.
Despite these precautions, Wang Yi, China's chief diplomat, called for an end to the harassment and attacks on civilian ships in mid-January. He emphasized the importance of preserving the seamless flow of global industrial chains, supply networks, and the international trade order.
The assaults have not spared Russian interests. In late January, Houthi rebels targeted a British tanker operated by Trafigura Group, which was transporting Russian oil. This unexpected attack has heightened concerns in the Kremlin about potential disruptions to shipping routes through the Red Sea.
The persistent attacks have severely hampered trade on this route, which previously facilitated 12 percent of global commerce. Vessels now have to navigate a longer route around Africa, affecting Egypt as traffic through the Suez Canal diminishes.
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