Security

Arab coalition thwarts Houthi drone boat attack on Red Sea port

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi

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Yemeni coast guards walk past a ship at Salif port in the western Red Sea's al-Hodeidah province following the withdrawal of Iran-backed Houthis on May 13, 2019. [AFP]

ADEN -- The Arab coalition on Monday (September 20) thwarted an attempted Houthi attack via armed boats in the Red Sea.

"We have destroyed two explosive-laden boats and thwarted an imminent attack by the Houthi militia in Salif port in al-Hodeidah province," the coalition said in a statement aired by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

"The Houthis continue to threaten maritime navigation and international trade in Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the southern Red Sea," it added.

The group is "also violating the Stockholm agreement by launching hostile operations from al-Hodeidah province", the statement said, referring to a peace deal brokered by the United Nations (UN) in Sweden in 2018.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain condemned the attempted attack on Salif port and said that these hostile acts were a threat to maritime navigation and to security and stability in the region.

This was the latest attempt by the Houthis to use explosives-laden drone boats to attack commercial vessels in the Red Sea and disrupt navigation.

The latest attack is part of the Houthis' comprehensive military strategy, said Abdul Salam Mohammed, director of the Abaad Centre for Strategic Studies.

The Houthi militia is simultaneously launching attacks on Marib, Shabwa and the southern provinces, and firing missiles on Saudi soil, he said.

"Through their military escalation in regional and international waters, the Houthis are also trying to achieve certain goals in negotiations with Saudi Arabia, which Iraq is currently hosting," Mohammed said.

With these attacks, he said, the Houthis aim to exert pressure on the international community in order to achieve their goals, including the unconditional re-opening of Sanaa airport and al-Hodeidah port.

The re-opening of both ports, however, is contingent upon compliance with the terms of the 2018 Stockholm Agreement.

The Houthis are serving the Iranian regime and its interests in the region while pressuring Saudi Arabia to withdraw from Yemen, Mohammed said.

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