Yemen’s Houthis release captured South Korean, Saudi vessels

SEOUL/DUBAI (Reuters) – Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement released three vessels and 16 people it had seized, South Korea’s foreign ministry and a Houthi military source in Yemen said on Wednesday.

The seizure on Sunday was the latest incident at sea around Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is leading a Western-backed coalition of Arab states against the Houthis, who control the capital and most population centres and have been accused of attacking shipping.

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Yemen’s Houthi rebels seize vessel in Red Sea

‘Attack’ on ship towing South Korean drilling rig threatens vital shipping routes, Saudi spokesman says.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said Iran-aligned Houthi rebels hijacked a vessel south of the Red Sea.

Saudi Arabia‘s state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki as saying on Monday that Houthis seized the ship while it was towing a South Korean oil drilling rig on Sunday.

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MaritimeSecurityNews: This is a significant roll of the dice by al Houthi rebels. As war weariness sets in on both sides, it has been suggested that this incident is an attempt by Houthis to show Saudi Arabia how difficult it can still make life for them. South Korean media outlets have suggested that three vessels were hijacked/seized by Houthi rebels and have dispatched their anti-piracy Cheonghae unit to the region, which will focus minds in Yemen, given their reputation.

Maritime security in the Red Sea remains perilous, with Iran reporting attacks which are unverified independently and the ongoing threat posed by Houthi naval mines and SVBIEDs. A persistent threat to a major shipping lane will not go unchallenged by other countries in the region as well as the USA. I hope the al Houthis appreciate just how risky this gamble may prove to be. Image below via, who carry the initial UKMTO report.

Image via
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Yemen’s Legitimacy Asks for Safe Corridors in Hodeidah

Badr Al-Qahtani

The legitimate government asked Chair of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) and head of the United Nations Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA) Abhijit Guha to “open humanitarian corridors in the city of Hodeidah,” an informed Yemeni source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The government explained that it requested to open the corridors because of the presence of government-controlled areas in the city, although Houthi militias rule most of it, the source said Thursday.

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Coalition destroys explosive-laden Houthi boat

RIYADH — The Arab Coalition supporting legitimacy in Yemen said on Thursday that it intercepted and destroyed an explosive-laden boat launched by Yemen’s Houthis from Hodeidah port.

Col. Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman of the coalition, said that the naval forces of the coalition spotted on Thursday morning an attempt by the Iran-backed terrorist Houthi militia to carry out an imminent hostile and terrorist act in the south of the Red Sea by using a booby-trapped boat and a drone launched from the Hodeidah governorate.

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Houthis Obstruct Oil Tankers to Threaten Maritime Security

Asma al-Ghabri

The Iran-backed Houthi militias’ refusal to implement a legitimate Yemen government order on collecting customs fees on all oil derivative revenues at Hodeidah port has led the halt of ten vessels in the Red Sea.

At Houthi orders, the oil tankers did not pay the revenues and did not disclose the certificate of origin of the shipment that ensures its legality.

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Renewed Clashes in Hodeidah as Peace Talks Continue

Despite a U.N.-backed ceasefire agreement, fighting between Houthi rebels and government forces has resumed on the south side of the port city of Hodeidah, Yemen. Pro-government militia leaders told Xinhua that Houthi units had shelled several neighborhoods, damaging homes and destroying part of a hospital. 

Under the terms of an agreement negotiated in Stockholm last December, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels were to withdraw from the port, and Saudi- and UAE-backed Yemeni government forces were to pull back from their positions surrounding the city. Houthi security units at the port have transferred control to the Yemeni Coast Guard, but the head of the UN mission in Hodeidah, Lt. Gen. Michael Lollesgaard, said last month that considerable work remains to demilitarize the port complex. 

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Yemen war: Houthis withdraw from key ports, says UN

The UN says Houthi rebels have pulled out of three key Red Sea ports in Yemen, in partial implementation of a ceasefire deal agreed six months ago.

Hudaydah, Salif and Ras Issa were handed over to the coast guard.

The UN said work was still needed to remove trenches, barriers and mines – and to implement the rest of the deal.

The Houthis and pro-government forces, which are backed by a Saudi-led coalition, agreed to leave the ports to allow in vital humanitarian aid.

However, the BBC’s Lyse Doucet says some Yemenis are sceptical about the latest pull-out and accuse the Houthis of leaving fighters in the ports disguised as coast guard personnel.

Yemen’s government has previously warned that the withdrawal would be a rebel “ploy”.

The UN says at least 7,070 civilians have been killed and 11,205 injured in the fighting, with 65% of the deaths attributed to Saudi-led coalition air strikes.

Thousands more civilians have died from preventable causes, including malnutrition, disease and poor health.

About 80% of the population – 24 million people – need humanitarian assistance and protection, and almost 10 million who the UN says are just a step away from famine. Almost 240,000 of those people are facing “catastrophic levels of hunger”.

What does the UN say?

Lt Gen Michael Lollesgaard, head of the UN’s Redeployment Co-ordination Committee (RCC) in Hudaydah, welcomed the Houthi withdrawal from the ports in western Yemen.

He said that since Saturday there had been “very good co-operation” with Houthi commanders and that the UN had been given access to all areas of the ports.

“Today we have together seen the redeployment and we have also agreed that there are a few outstanding issues,” he said.

“There are two minefields in Ras Issa and Salif and trenches in this port [Hudaydah] that need to be removed.”

He urged all sides to help implement the next stages of the peace deal.

Why is Hudaydah important?

Hudaydah port is the main lifeline for two-thirds of Yemen’s population and its closure has had a devastating impact.

Under the local ceasefire deal brokered by the UN in Stockholm last December, the warring parties agreed to redeploy their forces from Hudaydah city and the ports of Hudaydah, Salif and Ras Issa.

The Houthi withdrawal marked the first major step in bringing that ceasefire agreement into being.

Pro-government forces have twice tried to seize the port, and accuse the Houthis of using it to smuggle in weapons from Iran. The rebels and Tehran both deny these accusations.