UN Security Council calls for protection of global supply chains from Houthi attacks in Red Sea News
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UN Security Council calls for protection of global supply chains from Houthi attacks in Red Sea

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) officials on Wednesday urged the safeguarding of global supply chains and the prevention of heightened regional tensions in response to Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea. The remarks come in the aftermath of the attacks on the MSC United and the Maersk Hangzhou in late December 2023.

The UNSC press release emphasized the need to protect global supply chains and avoid escalating regional tensions. The council noted that the attacks, including those on MSC United and Maersk Hangzhou, could impact millions of people. Many officials condemned Houthi attacks on commercial vessels and called for the immediate release of the seized Galaxy Leader and its crew. Furthermore, the press release highlighted that shipping disruptions have led to increased freight costs.

Discussions surrounding the attacks also touched on the broader context of regional instability, with varying perspectives on Iran’s role. The US attributed the Houthi’s actions to Iranian funding. Meanwhile, Russia linked the Red Sea incidents to violence in Gaza, accusing the US of hindering resolutions and contributing to regional unrest. Israel’s representative highlighted Iran’s role as a global danger, urging the council to address Iran’s destructive influence. The speakers stressed the complex challenges involving maritime security, geopolitical tensions, and humanitarian concerns in Yemen.

Houthi rebels have launched over a dozen attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea as a show of support for Gaza amid Israel’s offensive in the enclave. Using drones and missiles, the Houthis targeted vessels navigating the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a critical trade route between Yemen, Djibouti and Eritrea. The attacks began in November with the seizure of the Galaxy Leader, an Israeli-linked cargo ship. The Red Sea is vital for global trade, especially oil shipments. As a consequence, shipping firms are pulling vessels from the region.

After the attacks, the US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on an individual and three currency exchange entities in Yemen and Turkey for allegedly financing Houthi activity in the Red Sea. This action places the entities on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) list, prohibiting transactions with US nationals and seizing their US-based assets.

According to a report by US Central Command, Iranian-backed Houthis fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles from their controlled areas in Yemen into the Southern Red Sea on January 2. Multiple commercial ships in the area confirmed the missiles’ impact in the surrounding waters, but no damage was reported. This marks the 24th attack on merchant shipping in the Southern Red Sea since November 19, posing risks to mariners and disrupting international commerce. However, the US Central Command reported earlier that it was successful in thwarting the 23rd attack, which involved the container ship Maersk Hangzhou reportedly being hit by a missile in the Southern Red Sea on December 31. The USS Gravely reportedly intercepted two anti-ship ballistic missiles fired by the Houthis during the response.