The Houthis attack a Chinese tanker, even though they promised to ensure its safe passage through the Suez Canal

The Houthis attack a Chinese tanker, even though they promised to ensure its safe passage through the Suez Canal

A very strange attack, while the Houthis in Yemen had clearly indicated two months ago, through the voice of Muhammad Al-Bukhaiti, a member of their political leadership, that they were ensuring “ Safe passage » On Saturday, Chinese and Russian ships using the Suez Canal attacked the Chinese oil tanker Huang Pu, 23 nautical miles west of the city of Mokha.

The name of the operator has recently changed

One of the five ballistic missiles sent hit this ship, which is owned and operated by China (but Panamanian-flagged), according to the US military's Middle East Command (Centcom). A fire broke out on board the ship and the crew issued a distress signal but did not call for help. Once the fire was extinguished, the ship was He was able to continue on his way “Adds Central Command.” No casualties were reported and the ship was able to continue its voyage “, identified by American forces, indicating that there were no casualties.

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According to maritime security firm Ambrey, “Registration data, including name and operator » The tanker was modified last February. Ambrey said that the ship was registered in 2019 under the name Union Maritime Ltd, a British company, adding that a boat belonging to this company had already been attacked by Yemeni rebels.

Until now, the Houthis have always said that they will only attack ships with a connection to Israel, especially targeting American or British boats in response to attacks by American and British forces against Houthi positions. As a reminder, Washington and London established a multinational naval protection force in the Red Sea last December and, with the help of the United Kingdom, launched strikes in Yemen against the Houthis.

Therefore, this attack on a Chinese boat is surprising. The error hypothesis cannot be ruled out, knowing that Iran is close to China.

On January 19, in an interview with the Russian newspaper Izvestia, Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti declared:

The madness and foolishness of the United States and the United Kingdom worked against them: now none of their ships would be able to cross one of the world's main trade routes. He said that the losses of the aggressor countries are greater than those of Yemen.

“For other countries, including China and Russia, their maritime transport in the region is not threatened. Moreover, we are ready to ensure the safe passage of their ships through the Red Sea.”

More than 50 attacks on ships since the fall

Meanwhile, the attacks do not stop. The Houthis have been behind at least 50 attacks on ships off the coast of Yemen since the fall, Deputy Defense Secretary Celeste Wallander said Thursday in Washington during a congressional hearing.

She added: “In the Red Sea, the Houthis are seeking to disrupt this vital route for global trade, with at least 50 attacks” on boats since the fall.

But American reactions lack effectiveness. During the same session, General Eric Kurella, head of the US military's Middle East Command (Centcom), acknowledged that the rebels could quickly replace equipment destroyed by the Western military.

Just two boats can replace most of the Houthi equipment we have destroyed so far “I am,” he announcedWe need to increase the work done at the international level so that we can inspect ships coming into Hodeidah He added that the port on the Red Sea is controlled by the Houthis, also stressing the need to influence Iran, an ally of the rebels.

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