Iranian cargo ship Iran Shahed bound for Yemen has entered into the waters of the Gulf of Aden, according to Iranian news agency IRNA.
The ship, said to be carrying 2,500 tons of humanitarian aid to war-stricken Yemen, has heightened the existing tensions in the area as the Iranian navy said it would not allow the ship to be inspected by the Saudi-lead coalition forces.
The ship’s passengers include doctors, journalists, and antiwar activists from the United States, France, and Germany, according to AFP.
The Iranian navy plans to escort the ship to the port and avoid the search, imposed by Yemen’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to which ships are not allowed into Yemen unless inspected and approved by the Saudi-led coalition forces.
Under the ban, only emergency food and medical aid vessels are allowed entry into the country’s territorial waters and even then only after being searched.
The intention behind the decision is to stop shipments that could assist the Houthi led forces in their conflict with the government forces.
Yemen warned Iran of the potential incidents that might ensue should they insist on avoiding the search, as the issue has raised doubts on the real content of the ship’s cargo, as Houthi militias are believed to be supported by Iran.
The United States has called Iran to divert the ship to a United Nations emergency relief hub in Djibouti instead of docking in the Yemeni port.
The Iran Shahed is expected to reach Yemen’s Hodaida port, which is controlled by Houthi fighters, on May 21.
The two conflicting sides in Yemen agreed on a five-day ceasefire to allow food and medicine into the country.
World Maritime News Staff; Image: Youtube