Yemen, coalition warns: Navigation in the Red Sea is in danger

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Yemen YemenThe Saudi-led international coalition, which intervened in the Yemeni conflict to assist the pro-government army, reported that it had taken measures to counter threats posed by Houthi militias in the southern Red Sea. However, a few hours after intercepting and destroying a drone headed for Najran airport in south Saudi Arabia, the statement was released a few hours later.

In particular, in the early hours of today, Monday, November 22, the international alliance declared that it had monitored “hostile” movements and activities carried out by the Houthi rebels in the southern Red Sea employing boats loaded with explosive traps. According to the coalition, that represents an imminent danger to shipping and international maritime trade in that region. For this reason, operational measures have been adopted to neutralize this threat and guarantee freedom of navigation.

A few hours earlier, on November 21, the Saudi air defense forces intercepted and destroyed a drone, presumably launched by the Houthi rebels, which had departed from the Yemeni capital Sanaa and headed for Najran airport. According to what was specified, fragments of the destroyed aircraft fell in the residential area of al-Araysah. However, no casualties were recorded. In any case, for Riyadh, the continuous violations committed by the Houthis hinder the initiatives undertaken and the efforts made to favor a political solution to the Yemeni civil conflict.

Even the day before, on November 20, the Shiite group itself had said it had launched 14 drones against several Saudi sites, including Saudi Aramco’s facilities in Jeddah. At the same time, the international coalition had reported that it had hit 13 rebel-linked targets in Yemen during a military operation that targeted weapons depots, air defense systems, and communications systems in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, as in the provinces of Saada and Marib.

These developments come while several Yemeni fronts are still on. Among these there are those of the Ma’rib governorate, located about 120 kilometers east of Sanaa. Here, the Yemeni army, aided by the Saudi-led coalition and local resistance groups, continues to face attempts by the Houthis to advance towards a strategic region. In this regard, also on November 21, the international alliance reported that it had foiled an attempted attack by the Houthis in southern Ma’rib, causing the death of about 150 Shiite fighters and the destruction of 12 military vehicles.

In parallel, about ten military operations were carried out in 24 hours against the regions of Ma’rib, al-Bayda, and al-Jawf on the same day, killing at least 40 Shiite rebels. Meanwhile, operations continue in the western governorate of Hodeidah, aimed, according to the coalition, to preserve civilians’ lives following the Houthis’ advance. On November 12 last, the latter took control of a large area south of the port city of Hodeidah, following the withdrawal of joint forces, pro-government and coalition, from an area of about 90 kilometers.

Since the Saudi-led coalition entered into the Yemeni conflict on March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia has been seen by the Houthis as a legitimate target to strike in response to the continuing siege of Yemen by pro-government Yemeni forces, the international alliance that assists them. Riyadh, for its part, considers the actions of the Shiite group a form of violation of international humanitarian law, as well as an obstacle to attempts to restore peace to Yemen, and has repeatedly pledged to take the necessary measures to preserve civilian objects and subjects.

That happened about seven years after the outbreak of the Yemeni civil conflict, which began following the Houthi coup on September 21, 2014. It sees the Shiite rebels, backed by Tehran, and the forces linked to the Yemeni government oppose internationally recognized, related to President Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Since March 26, 2015, the pro-government army has been assisted by an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

In 2021, attention was mainly focused on Ma’rib, the last stronghold of the country’s pro-government forces in the north. However, since the first week of February 2021, the rebels have launched a violent offensive, still ongoing, to conquer a region rich in oil resources and allow the Shiite group to complete its expansion plans in northern Yemen. Up to now, no significant results have been recorded, while the worst national. In this regard, the forces led by Riyadh reported that they caused the death of about 27,000 Houthi fighters during the recent escalation in Ma’rib, the last 200 killed between 17 and 18 November, during the approximately 35 operations carried out the coalition in 24 hours. The Shiite group declared that, since last June, 14,700 of its men died in the battles of Ma’rib.

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