Blinken, in call with Saudi counterpart, condemns Houthis for Red Sea attacks

Blinken, in call with Saudi counterpart, condemns Houthis for Red Sea attacks
Blinken, in call with Saudi counterpart, condemns Houthis for Red Sea attacks

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Houthi military helicopter flies over the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea in this photo released November 20, 2023. ― Houthi Military Media/Handout via Reuters

WASHINGTON, Dec 19 ― US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a call with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan yesterday in which he condemned attacks by Yemen's Houthi movement on commercial vessels in international waters in the Red Sea, the State Department said yesterday.

The take

The Houthis, who are backed by Iran, have waded into the war between Israel and Islamist group Hamas by attacking vessels in vital shipping lanes and even firing drones and missiles at Israel, more than 1,000 miles from their seat of power in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. The Houthi group said yesterday it launched a drone attack on two cargo vessels in one of its latest attacks in the region.

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Several countries have agreed to jointly carry out patrols in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to try to safeguard commercial shipping against attacks by Houthi rebels, who say they are supporting Palestinians under siege by Israel in the Gaza Strip.

Key quote

“The Secretary also condemned continued attacks by the Houthis on commercial vessels operating in international waters in the southern Red Sea and urged cooperation among all partners to uphold maritime security,” the State Department said in a statement after the call.

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In the call, Blinken discussed about “preventing the further spread of the conflict,” according to the State Department.

Context

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said earlier this month there must be an immediate end to fighting in Gaza and alleged that governments worldwide do not seem to see it as a priority.

Even as the United Nations has demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, the United States and Israel have resisted those calls, saying it would help Hamas rearm and regroup.

Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel left 1,200 dead and Israel's subsequent assault on Gaza has killed nearly 20,000, according to the local health ministry, with many more missing and presumed buried under rubble. ― Reuters

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