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The Galaxy Leader cargo ship is escorted by Houthi boats in the Red Sea in this photo released November 20, 2023. Houthi Military Media/Handout via REUTERS

The Galaxy Leader cargo ship is escorted by Houthi boats in the Red Sea in this photo released November 20, 2023. Houthi Military Media/Handout via REUTERS

US and Allies Issue Warning to the Houthis: Stop the Attacks on Shipping or Else

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 10851
January 3, 2024

In a joint statement released by the White House, the governments of the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom have called for an immediate end to the illegal attacks on international shipping by the Iran-backed Houthis.

“The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways,” the statement warns.

The joint statement comes after the Yemen-based Houthis, officially known as Ansar Allah, have carried out 24 illegal missile and drone attacks on international shipping since the November 19th hijacking of the M/V Galaxy Leader, which they continue to hold in Yemeni waters along with its civilian crew.

In response, the United States in December established Operation Prosperity Guardian, described as a “defensive coalition” designed to reassure global shipping and mariners and protect freedom of navigation through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Despite the coalition’s successes in shooting down anti-ship ballistic missiles, the Houthis have continued to launch attacks from Yemen, including a missile attack and suspected attempted hijacking of a Maersk containership over the weekend and the latest attack against a CMA CGM containership on Tuesday.

The full joint statement is posted in full below:

Recognizing the broad consensus as expressed by 44 countries around the world on December 19, 2023, as well as the statement by the UN Security Council on December 1, 2023, condemning Houthi attacks against commercial vessels transiting the Red Sea, and in light of ongoing attacks, including a significant escalation over the past week targeting commercial vessels, with missiles, small boats, and attempted hijackings,

We hereby reiterate the following and warn the Houthis against further attacks:

Ongoing Houthi attacks in the Red Sea are illegal, unacceptable, and profoundly destabilizing. There is no lawful justification for intentionally targeting civilian shipping and naval vessels. Attacks on vessels, including commercial vessels, using unmanned aerial vehicles, small boats, and missiles, including the first use of anti-ship ballistic missiles against such vessels, are a direct threat to the freedom of navigation that serves as the bedrock of global trade in one of the world’s most critical waterways.

These attacks threaten innocent lives from all over the world and constitute a significant international problem that demands collective action.  Nearly 15 percent of global seaborne trade passes through the Red Sea, including 8 percent of global grain trade, 12 percent of seaborne-traded oil and 8 percent of the world’s liquefied natural gas trade. International shipping companies continue to reroute their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, adding significant cost and weeks of delay to the delivery of goods, and ultimately jeopardizing the movement of critical food, fuel, and humanitarian assistance throughout the world.

Let our message now be clear: we call for the immediate end of these illegal attacks and release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews.  The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways. We remain committed to the international rules-based order and are determined to hold malign actors accountable for unlawful seizures and attacks. END

Below is a joint statement from the World Shipping Council, the International Chamber of Shipping and BIMCO:

The World Shipping Council, the International Chamber of Shipping and BIMCO today expressed their thanks to the 12 nations that have jointly condemned the ongoing illegal attacks on ships in the Red Sea and unlawful detention of vessels and crews there. 

As the governments of the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom have all stated, these attacks are unacceptable, illegal and directly threaten the freedom of navigation that is fundamental to global trade. On behalf of our members and their seafarers and customers throughout the world, the organisations thank these 12 nations for their strong commitment to defending rules-based international order and to holding malign actors accountable for unlawful seizures and attacks.

The shipping associations call on all nations and international organisations to protect seafarers, international trade in the Red Sea, and to support the welfare of the global commons by bringing all pressure to bear on the aggressors so that these intolerable attacks cease with immediate effect. END

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