UN Security Council members call for Iran-backed Houthis to stop attacks on shipping

Members of the UN Security Council are calling on Yemen’s Houthis, backed by Iran, to halt their attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, saying they threaten regional stability, global freedom of navigation and food supplies.

Addressing the council’s first formal meeting of 2024, members also demanded that the Houthis release Galaxy Leader, a Japanese-operated cargo ship linked to an Israeli company, and its crew, which the group seized on November 19.

The United States believes the situation has reached an “inflection point,” said Chris Lu, a US representative to the United Nations.

“These attacks pose grave implications for maritime security, international shipping and commerce, and they undermine the fragile humanitarian situation in Yemen,” threatening the delivery of aid, Lu said.

“The Security Council should not let this continue. In this regard, and in view of the urgency and the importance of the matter, Japan believes the Security Council should take an appropriate action to deter additional threats by the Houthis and maintain international peace and security,” Japan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kazuyuki Yamazaki, told the Council.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis said earlier they had “targeted” a container ship bound for Israel, a day after the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said the group had fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles in the southern Red Sea.

The Houthis, who have launched more than 20 attacks on merchant ships in recent weeks, said they attacked the Malta-flagged freighter, believing it was headed for Israel. The ship was not hit.

The Houthis, who control much of impoverished Yemen and have been fighting a civil war since 2014, say they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians because of Israel’s war on Hamas, following the terror group’s shock assault on Israel on October 7.

The Houthi attacks, centered on the Red Sea’s Bab al-Mandeb southern chokepoint, have disrupted shipping in a waterway that carries about 12 percent of global trade.

In response to the attacks, the US set up a multinational naval task force to protect Red Sea shipping.

AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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