Houthis promise Red Sea security to Egypt

Houthis promise Red Sea security to Egypt
The Houthis, who have captured large parts of Yemen, has reportedly assured Cairo that it does not intend to disrupt traffic on the waters around the strategically important Bab al-Mandab Strait.
2 min read
01 March, 2015
Egypt is concerned instability in Yemen might affect shipping in the Suez Canal [Anadolu]

Yemen's Houthi movement has promised Cairo it will ensure the security of the strategically important Bab al-Mandeb Strait amid increased instability in the peninsular state, an Egyptian diplomat has told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

The announcement comes a day before the planned visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Saudi Arabia, where the situation in Yemen is likely to be discussed.

Houthi advance

Following a series of advances by the rebel Zaydi group, the Houthis now effectively control the state in Yemen, and are making advances in other areas of the country not yet under its full control.

Gulf states are concerned about the rise of the group, which is said to have close links to Iran, while Egypt is worried that instability might threaten the trade route of Gulf oil and other goods from Asia, through the Suez Canal to Europe and North America.

Merchant ships must pass through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait before entering the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.

"An Egyptian delegation met with the Houthis in Egypt's embassy in Sanaa two days before the Egyptian ambassador was recalled to Cairo," said a diplomatic source speaking on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorised to speak on behalf of the government.

No quarrel with Egypt

"In the meeting, the Houthis confirmed they would not clash with Egypt, and that they would secure navigation through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which strongly affects navigation through Egypt's Suez Canal."

     Nearly 21,000 ships and tankers pass through the strait every year.

The source said the Houthis were aware that closing the strait would lead to disasterous consequences, as it would guarantee international hostility against them.

Nearly 21,000 ships and tankers pass through the strait every year.

Gulf sanctions

It is thought that Sisi and the Saudi king will be considering security issues of the Gulf and Red Sea following the Houthi takeover of Yemen's capital, Sanaa.

Officials have confirmed to al-Araby al-Jadeed that Gulf-imposed sanctions on Yemen have come into force.

A senior official in Yemen's central bank said that the economic embargo threatened by the Gulf had come into force.

Yemen is the Arab world's poorest country and now faces a suspension of grants and financial aid from Gulf states to the tune of $2 billion per year.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.