Two More Shipping Giants Suspend Red Sea Passage Amid Escalating Houthi Attacks

Echoing the concerns raised by Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd on Friday, two additional shipping behemoths, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and CMA CGM, announced on Saturday their decision to suspend passage through the Red Sea strait, a crucial route for global trade. This development follows recent attacks by Yemeni rebels, known as Houthi rebels, in the region.

The Houthi rebels, backed by Iran and controlling significant parts of Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attacks, citing their intention to exert pressure on Israel due to its conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The attacks included a ballistic missile striking the MSC Palatium III on Friday near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a vital maritime corridor connecting the Suez Canal to the Indian Ocean.

The decision by MSC and CMA CGM underscores the escalating maritime campaign by the Iranian-backed rebels, posing a threat to ships navigating the strategic waterway crucial for cargo and energy shipments between Europe and Asia.

“The situation continues to deteriorate, and there are increasing concerns about security,” stated CMA CGM in a press release. The shipping giant has instructed all its vessels in the area to cease their journey through the Red Sea until further notice, emphasizing the importance of preserving safety and taking necessary measures.

The Houthi military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, asserted in a statement that they would persist in preventing ships bound for Israeli ports from navigating the Red Sea until essential supplies reach Gaza. The rebel attacks, however, have raised questions about the true motives behind these assaults, as the targeted ships’ connections to Israel become less evident.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan expressed the gravity of the situation, labeling the Houthi actions as a “threat to freedom of navigation to commercial shipping.” Sullivan conveyed the United States’ commitment to addressing this threat in collaboration with the international community and regional partners.

The Bab el-Mandeb Strait, only 29 kilometers wide at its narrowest point, handles nearly 10% of globally traded oil at sea and facilitates an estimated $1 trillion in goods annually. The recent targeting of commercial vessels in the region adds to growing concerns about the potential expansion of the Israel-Hamas conflict into a broader regional crisis.

The tensions have prompted military responses, with the US Central Command reporting the interception of over a dozen drones launched from Houthi-controlled areas. Additionally, a UK destroyer reportedly brought down a suspected attack drone in the Red Sea region.

Information for this briefing was found via Times of Israel, France24, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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