U.S. Calls on Security, January 4 (UPI) — The US is urging the United Nations Security Council to take quick action against Houthi rebels who have been assaulting ships traveling the Red Sea trade route while Israel is fighting Hamas in Gaza.
U.S. Calls on Security Council to Act on Houthi Attacks in Red Sea
Chris Lu, the United States Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, told the council Thursday during its first open discussion on the assaults that it is “vital” that the 15-member body speaks with one voice about the need to uphold international law and basic rights and freedoms.
He said that the rebels have carried out more than 20 attacks in Yemen since November 19, including one on Wednesday morning.
“In light of both the broad support for council action and continued Houthi attacks, the United States believes that we are at an inflection point,” the secretary of state said.
“These attacks have serious consequences for maritime security, international shipping, and commerce.” And they exacerbate Yemen’s precarious humanitarian situation, undermining the international community’s capacity to aid more than 21 million people in need.”
He went on to say that as they demand that the Houthi rebels stop their attacks, the council must not forget about their long-time facilitator, Iran, which he accused of paying the Houthis, sending weapons to them, and being part of their Red Sea planning activities.
“Iran has a choice here: It can continue its current course or it can withhold its support — without which the Houthis would struggle to effectively track and strike commercial vessels navigating shipping lanes through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.”
The Houthi rebels, based in Yemen, have been fighting a civil war against the internationally recognized Yemeni government, which is backed by Saudi-led coalition forces.
Since the start of the battle between Hamas and Israel on October 7, the Houthis have targeted civilian facilities in Israel as well as commercial maritime boats in the Red Sea, which accounts for 15% of world trade.
The Houthis had pledged to attack all Israel-bound ships in protest of Israel’s conflict in the Palestinian enclave, which has killed over 22,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, but has subsequently broadened its scope to include all vessels.
According to International Maritime Organization Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez, around 18 shipping companies have redirected their vessels around South Africa, resulting in an additional 10 days of trip and higher freight prices, which are projected to have a severe impact on trade.
Britain’s Security Council delegation followed the United States in condemning the assaults and pledging retaliation on Wednesday.
“If necessary… we will not hesitate to take action to deter threats to freedom of navigation in the Red Sea,” said British Ambassador to the United Nations James Kariuki.
“Contrary to claims made by the Houthis, these attacks are indiscriminate and target shipping that has no connection to Israel.”
Members of the council unanimously denounced the attacks, with some, such as Russia and Algeria, adding that they were taking place in response to Israel’s war. Some members also demanded that the Houthis quickly return the Japanese-operated Galaxy Leader shipping vessel and its 25-person crew, which were apprehended on November 19.
“It is unacceptable that the innocent crew has been detained for more than 40 days,” said Japan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Yamazaki Kazuyuki, while urging the crew’s release and expressing alarm over the deteriorating situation in the Red Sea.
The summit took place as a coalition of 13 nations, including the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Australia, separately agreed to fight Houthi attacks on Wednesday.
The seemingly growing attacks have sparked fears that the Middle East war would go further militarily.
During the council meeting on Wednesday, U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari urged Houthi militants to halt all such activities, warning that it risks exacerbating regional tensions.
“We reiterate that such incidents emanating from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen must come to an end.” “There is no cause or grievance that can justify the continuation of these attacks on freedom of navigation,” he stated.