Yemen’s Houthi militias, rebel forces believed to be backed by Iran, seized a Bab al-Mandab army base overlooking the key shipping lane in the Red Sea, Bloomberg reports citing Mahfouz Ahmed, a soldier at the facility.
The Associated Press quoted Yemeni military officials as saying that Houthi rebels have taken up positions in areas called Zabab and the Sheikh Said mountain next to the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, the world’s fourth oil-shipping chokepoint.
The news fuels the tensions of the maritime industry as fears of potential closure of the Bab al-Mandab strait and growing security threats increase amid intensifying armed clashes in the region.
Operations of Kuwaiti oil tankers in the Bab el-Mandeb strait were unaffected by the military operations in Yemen, based on a recent update by a Kuwait Petroleum Corp’s spokesman.
Saudi Arabia said that its air strikes on Houthi positions, launched last week, have contained the rebel advance toward the southern port of Aden, Bloomberg added. The Houthi militias had already overthrown the country’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and were working to oust him when Saudi Arabia started the bombing campaign.
The Port of Aden remains virtually closed except for some oil shipments at Aden Refinery, according to GAC’s update.
Dry cargo shipments have stopped as no stevedores are available due to the fighting.
Yemeni ports at the Red Sea, Hodeidah and Saleef, are still operating as there are no hostilities at these areas. Offshore terminals are also unaffected and working as usual, the update said.
Saudi-led naval forces imposed a blockade on some of Yemeni ports on Monday aimed at preventing transfer of weapons to the rebel forces.
The security situation is deteriorating by the moment as naval artillery strikes in land resume by foreign naval vessels.
Marine insurer Skuld issued an advisory to its members urging them to review present or planned calls to Yemen, prioritizing security of their crew and vessels.
World Maritime News Staff; Image: NASA