In Aftermath Of November 19 Seizure Of Vessel: Yemen's Ansar Allah (Houthis) Forces Threaten To Block Red Sea Shipping Lane In Event Of Military Action

November 22, 2023

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On November 21, 2023, the pro-Hizbullah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar published an article titled, "Sanaa Warns the Enemy And Allies: The Price Of Escalation Is a Complete Blockade of Navigation." According to the article, the Defense Ministry threatened that any action against Yemen as a result of the November 19 takeover of the shipping vessel, Galaxy Leader, in the Red Sea would lead to a complete blockade of the Red Sea and the Bab Al-Mandab Strait shipping lane.[1]

Houthis Threaten "Iron Fist" Response To Any Military Action Against Yemen

According to the report, Yemen's Houthi-run Defense Ministry warned countries that were considering military action against Yemen that the its response would be to hit any party in its territorial Red Sea waters with an "iron fist."

A press release posted on the Ministry of Defense website states:

"The Yemeni naval forces are fully prepared for any possible response, and will confront any foreign intervention in our territorial waters and islands. There will be appropriate response and all [vessels] will be legitimate targets for us," said the Commander of Yemen's Coastal Defense Brigadier General Muhammad Al-Qadiri.

"We have the appropriate weapons and missiles to deal with any development, and we can strike at any time or place we choose," he continued.

The report argued that Yemeni forces warned shipping companies that continuing to work for businesses affiliated with Israel exposes them to danger. The report emphasized that the warning concerns only vessels associated with Israel.

Israeli Vessels Will Be Hunted Down

Furthermore, the report from Yemen noted that the Houthi-run country has taken into consideration the safety of international shipping lines in the Red Sea and Bab Al-Mandab. Aware of risks, the report stated that Yemeni forces use modern technologies to monitor the movements of ships, determine their identities, and "hunt down any identified as an Israeli vessel."

Al-Akhbar quoted Major General in Yemeni Air Force, Khaled Ghorab, as saying that the ship, Galaxy Leader, was dealt with in accordance with Yemeni law, since Yemen announced earlier that "all Israeli ships passing through the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait are…legitimate targets."

In his statement, Ghorab argued that Galaxy Leader "tried to break Yemeni law," and that it was involved in "transporting weapons" to Israel.

"Attempts To Bypass Blockade Will Cost Israel's Economy A Lot"

The report also cited Deputy Director of Moral Guidance in Sanaa, Brigadier General Abdullah Bin Amer, telling Al-Akhbar that Yemen "was able to impose a naval blockade on Israeli shipping across the Red Sea." The general continued:

"Attempts to bypass this blockade will cost the enemy's economy a lot unless it stops its aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, as the shortest way to avoid the repercussions of closing Bab al-Mandab to Israeli navigation," he said.

Bin Amer also stated that since the start of Yemeni operations, Israeli vessels have not sailed past the Gulf of Aqaba, and threatened that any military action against Yemen would result in a complete shutdown of navigation in the Red Sea. He also called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to stop its "barbaric war against the Palestinian people."



[1] Al-Akhbar, November 21, 2023.

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