ADEN -- Sea mines made in Iran and planted in the Red Sea by its proxies, the Houthis, are a form of "floating death" that will endanger fishermen and maritime navigation for years to come, officials in Yemen said.
In a May 30 report on Houthi sea mines titled, "Floating Death", Al-Ain News revealed that a primitive sea mine planted by the militia recently had become unmoored from its tether and was cast adrift by the wind.
It washed up on an al-Hodeidah province beach that is under the control of the Yemeni government.
Though it was the first to be discovered since a truce brokered by the United Nations (UN) went into effect on April 2, hundreds of mines previously have been set adrift by the wind in the waters of the Red Sea, the report said.
A Yemeni Coast Guard patrol discovered the mine off the shores of Khokha district in southern al-Hodeidah, and called on engineering teams to dismantle it, the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed Joint Forces said in a statement.
A specialised engineering team with the Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance in Yemen (MASAM) immediately responded and safely detonated the sea mine at a location away from the civilian population, it said.
Three types of mines
In recent years, the Al-Ain News report said, mine removal operations carried out by the Arab coalition, the Joint Forces and the Yemeni army have revealed that the Houthis deploy three types of mines in the Red Sea.
The group uses two types of Iranian sea mines, Sadaf and Qaa, as well as primitive mines that vary in size, with some the size of a domestic gas cylinder.
The primitive mine is the most dangerous, according to the report.
These mines are moored at a depth of 2 metres and are tethered to a metal base. They break free when the mooring cables are cut, and are then swept away by the wind and tides, becoming floating bombs drifting in the sea.
They can be dangerous for many years.
According to Yemeni Deputy Minister of Legal Affairs and Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez, "the sea mines used by the Houthis came with the support and training of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)".
This was in addition to providing the Houthis with sea mines manufactured in Iran, he said.
Sea mines planted by the Houthis "have killed more than 100 fishermen", Abdul Hafeez said, noting that this figure would likely double "if accurate documentation is done".
He said the sea mines are "a human catastrophe due to their nature and the fact that they will continue to pose a danger for years if they are not discovered".
A threat to fishermen
"The sea mines planted by the Houthis in the Red Sea are of the [Iranian] Sadaf and Qaa types," political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.
Iran uses these mines to threaten oil exports from the Gulf states, he said, describing the Houthis as "Iran's tool south of the Arabian Peninsula, the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb strait to implement its agenda".
As of late last year, Ahmed noted, the Arab coalition had removed 247 sea mines planted by the Houthis, all of which "targeted international navigation and the global economy".
According to a January report by the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen, the Houthis continue to plant sea mines in the Red Sea, off islands north of the three ports that they occupy: al-Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Issa.
Sea mines are constricting the livelihoods of fishermen, economist Abdul Aziz Thabet said.
They endanger fishermen's lives as they go about their work in the waters of the Red Sea, he said, and the danger even follows them onto the land when, tossed by the wind, these mines wash up on the beaches.
"Sea mines pose a recurring threat to fishermen and their livelihoods, in addition to threatening international navigation and the global economy," he said. "They are planted by the Houthis, with Iranian planning, to serve Iran's agenda in the region."