China, Russia Allegedly Given Safe Red Passage by Houthis

AI generated image of a containership passing through the Suez Canal
Updated Published

According to Bloomberg, Yemen's Houthis have agreed not to attack Chinese and Russian ships navigating through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

The report, based on anonymous sources, outlines that an agreement was forged after discussions in Oman between Chinese and Russian diplomats and a high-ranking Houthi representative, Mohammed Abdel Salam. The Houthis, supported by Iran, are purportedly seeking assurances from China and Russia to help mitigate stringent measures proposed by other United Nations Security Council members against them, in exchange for ensuring the safety of Chinese and Russian vessels en route to the Suez Canal.

This isn't the first instance of the Houthis extending such promises to Russia and China. Russian media in Iran cited a high-level Houthi official making similar guarantees for safe passage to these countries, which are allies of Iran.

The Houthis have conducted numerous assaults on vessels associated with Israel, the US, and the UK, aligning themselves with Hamas in its conflict with Israel lasting nearly six months. Their targeting has been criticized for inaccuracies, often relying on outdated or incorrect shipping databases, resulting in attacks on unrelated ships.

Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, the leader of the Houthis, has recently threatened to widen their campaign to the Indian Ocean, targeting ships near South Africa.

As a consequence of these threats, approximately 70 merchant ships have been attacked, causing a significant diversion of global shipping routes to circumnavigate Africa for connecting Asia and Europe.

The International Monetary Fund reports a 50% decrease in trade volumes through the Suez Canal for the first two months of 2024 compared to the previous year, while trade via the Cape of Good Hope has increased by an estimated 74%.

Revenues from the Suez Canal, which amounted to $10.25 billion for Egypt last year, are projected to halve to about $5 billion this year due to the disruptions.

Clarksons Research indicates a 72% decline in vessel arrivals in the Gulf of Aden for the first half of December compared to all types of merchant ships.