A Houthi militant walks through the beach with the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the background. December 5, 2023 (EPA)

Houthis: We are in talks with the EU on our maritime operations


Wed, 21-02-2024 04:35 PM, Aden

Sanaa (South24) 

A senior official from the Iranian-backed Yemeni Houthi group said today that they are holding “constructive talks” with the European Union (EU) regarding international navigation and military operations in the Red Sea, two days after the EU launched a naval mission in the area to protect cargo ships from Houthi attacks.

Deputy Foreign Minister of the unrecognized Houthi government, Hussein Al-Ezzi, said at a press conference: “There are constructive talks between Sanaa and the EU during which we confirmed that maritime navigation is safe, and we will address all countries in communication.”

Al-Ezzi said: “Before the US designation entered into force, we entered into talks mediated by Norway, and were presented with major offers to give up our position and we rejected it,” according to the official ‘September 26’ newspaper affiliated with the Houthis.

The Houthi official stressed that ships belonging to Israel, the US, and UK will be targeted if they attempt to pass through the Red Sea. He claimed that this week, "283 ships crossed the Red Sea safely."*

Yesterday (Feb 20), the Houthis announced the implementation of a large-scale operation in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea against American warships.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said: “We targeted, with a number of drones, a number of enemy US warships in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.” Sarea also announced that they attacked Israeli targets in the city of Eilat with drones.

"We also carried out an operation to target an Israeli ship, MSC Silver, in the Gulf of Aden with a number of suitable naval missiles," he added.

In a statement on X, the US Central Command said that on Monday night, US aircraft and warships and coalition forces shot down 10 Houthi drones in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

In addition, the US destroyer USS Laboon on Tuesday morning shot down an anti-ship cruise missile heading towards it, according to CENTCOM.

In the same statement, US Central Command said that on Monday, the Houthis fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles at the M/V Sea Champion, a US-owned Greek-flagged bulk carrier that was heading to the Port of Aden in Yemen.

The statement made it clear that the ship was carrying humanitarian aid for the Yemenis, and was slightly damaged during the Houthi attack, but it continued its journey towards the Port of Aden.

Today, the Minister of Information in the recognized Yemeni government, Muammar Al-Eryani, described the Houthi attack on Sea Champion as “a dangerous escalation in the course of maritime piracy, and a direct targeting of food imports and humanitarian aid provided to Yemen.”

Al-Eryani pointed out that the ship "was on its way to unload part of its cargo, amounting to about (9,229) tons of corn, in the port of Aden, before heading to the port of Hodeidah to unload the remaining load, amounting to (31,000) tons, according to the plan."

The Yemeni official called on the UK and the EU to designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization.

Related: After it Took Effect: The Impact of Re-designating Houthis as a ‘Terrorist Group’

On the other hand, the September 26 Houthi newspaper quoted a shipping source as saying that the Sea Champion ship is an US ship carrying poultry feed, and not humanitarian aid as Washington has claimed.

Since the Houthis' designation on the US' list of terrorist organizations took effect on February 16, the militia has escalated its attacks in an unprecedented manner in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The Houthi operations announced so far in less than a week have reached eight.

*On Monday, the EU announced the launch of Operation Aspides aimed at protecting its merchant ships from attacks by Yemen‘s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.

South24 Center

HouthisMaritime securityEU