HomeLatest NewsUN Security Council demands Houthis stop Red Sea shipping attacks

UN Security Council demands Houthis stop Red Sea shipping attacks

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has called for an immediate end to attacks by Yemen’s Houthi on shipping in the Red Sea, adopting a resolution which received four abstentions including those from Russia and China.

The resolution also called on the Houthis to release the Galaxy Leader, a Japanese-operated vehicle carrier linked to an Israeli businessman that the group commandeered on 19 November, along with its 25 crew.

Eleven of the Council’s 15 members supported the resolution, none voted against, with four abstentions The meeting follows an emergency briefing and consultations last week to address the growing threat posed by Houthi attacks in one of the world’s key shipping channels.

The Council’s adoption of the resolution came after it rejected amendments proposed by Russia that would have stripped out the implicit endorsement of the US-led taskforce and included the war in Gaza among the “root causes” of the Houthi strikes.

Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia questioned the legitimacy of the taskforce and said the resolution as drafted was “an open-ended blessing of it”. Despite possessing a veto power in the Security Council, Russia and China both chose to abstain from the vote, along with Mozambique and Algeria. The resolution, noting the “large-scale” violations of an arms embargo against the Houthis, also reiterates the need for all member states to “adhere to their obligations” and “condemns the provision of arms” to the Houthis.

The United States reported earlier in the day that together with UK naval forces it had shot down 21 drones and missiles fired by Houthi rebels from Yemen on Tuesday in the southern Red Sea. There have been over two dozen separate attacks on international shipping carried out by the rebel movement which controls much of Yemen, since the October 7 when the war erupted in Gaza, according to the UN. Houthis control the capital Sana’a and large swathes of the country, including the Red Sea coast.

They began targeting what they believe to be Israel-bound vessels in mid-November after first launching missile and drone attacks against Israel itself, in support of the extremist group Hamas. Now they have widened their aim to all international shipping companies, until, they say, Israel allows full humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza, causing many companies to divert ships far to the south around the Cape of Good Hope, driving up costs and threatening to disrupt the entire global supply chain.

Council members previously condemned the Houthi attacks and demanded the release of the Japanese-registered Galaxy Leader and its crew in a December 1, 2023 press statement. Wednesday’s resolution condemned “in the strongest terms” the Houthi attacks on merchant and commercial vessels since 19 November, demanding that the group immediately cease all such attacks, as well as release the Galaxy Leader and its crew.

The text calls for respect for the exercise of navigational rights and freedoms by merchant and commercial vessels in line with international law. It further “takes note of the right of Member States”, in accordance with international law, to defend their vessels from attacks, including those that undermine navigational rights and freedoms.

The text commends efforts taken so far to protect shipping under fire in the Red Sea and encourages member states to “support capacity building efforts” of the Yemeni coastguard to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the country.

It also emphasizes the needs to “address the root causes” of the attack that are contributing to regional tensions, to ensure a “prompt, efficient and effective response”. The resolution condemns the provision of any arms to the Houthis and “urges caution and restraint to avoid further escalation of the situation in the Red Sea and the broader region”. It urges continued support for the UN-led peace process to end Yemen’s long-running civil conflict.

US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said: “Iran has long encouraged the Houthi’s destabilising actions in the region through both financial and materiel support.” Japanese Ambassador Yamazaki Kazuyiki, who drew up the resolution along with the US, denounced the Houthi attacks and demanded the release of the Galaxy Leader’s crew. China’s Permanent Representative Zhang Jun saw in the resolutions “ambiguities”, a reason to fear an exacerbation of regional tensions. APP

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